The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Serving flask
  • Serving flask
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Venice, or possibly Spain
  • second half 16th-17th century
  • Colourless glass with greyish-straw tinge with 'lattimo' canes arranged in a 'vetro fili' pattern, except for an applied and tooled turquoise-blue glass collar.
  • Height: 22.2 cm
    Diameter: 10.4 cm
  • C527
  • Sixteenth Century Gallery
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This simply constructed and decorated flask with its quintessentially Venetian features, 'vetro a fili' decoration (parallel white or 'lattimo' glass canes incorporated into the colourless glass) and a blue trail, is a delicate and elegant example of a flask form that has had enduring appeal over the centuries.The long-necked, low-bodied serving flask with a small capacity has a long history in Italy, where it is known as an 'inghistera'.
    The shape has Roman precedents. In the post-Roman era, 'inghistere' are known in Italy from the eleventh century onwards, and a Venetian glass-maker is first recorded as selling them in 1279. While vessels of this shape appear to have been made in Venice or in the Venetian style throughout the sixteenth century, a patent for the production of 'vetro a filigrana' glass (the incorporation of white canes to form a pattern) was applied for there in 1527 and its use increased from mid-century. 'Inghistera' were still being made in Venice in the seventeenth century.
    In Italian paintings 'inghistere' are usually depicted on the table, containing water or wine. However, they were also used for other purposes. An eleventh-century bible from an abbey in Spain shows courtly diners drinking directly from long-necked, globular-bodied vessels, and examples excavated in Cremona and dated 1492 contained oil and wine. Long-necked flasks were also used to sell small measures of wine and in a pharmaceutical context.
    This serving flask is attributed to Venice, or possibly Spain. Several factors indicate that a Spanish origin cannot be discounted for this glass: the canes are not drawn together at the centre of the underside in the usual style of Venetian glass production; extremely thin, light glass was a feature of Venetian-style Spanish glass at this period, and the greyish-straw tinge of the glass is characteristic of Spanish production.