The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Ewer
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Venice, Italy
  • late 16th century
  • 'Vetro a filigrana' glass on a colourless glass liner. The canes are arranged in a 'vetro a retorti' pattern except for the 'vetro a fili' patterned handle; mould-formed, applied and tooled features; gilding
  • Height: 27.2 cm
    Diameter: 13 cm, width without handle
    Diameter: 14.6 cm, with handle
  • C530
  • Sixteenth Century Gallery
Images & Media
Further Reading

  • Prized for their technical virtuosity, beauty and complexity, ewers of this type were prestigious possessions. They were broadly inspired by prototypes from Classical antiquity, disseminated via prints such as the designs for antique vases published by Agostino Veneziano in 1531. Their 'all'antica' associations would have added to their prestige. Examples in glass were produced through much of the sixteenth century. Colourless, smooth-bodied examples are depicted in several paintings dated between 1520s and 1550s, including Titian's 'Bacchanal of the Andrians', dating to 1523-6 (Prado, Madrid).
    The decorative patterns` of white ('lattimo') canes on this ewer were created by the 'vetro a filigrana' technique. This technique was first produced in Venice around 1527 and became increasingly widespread towards the middle of the sixteenth century. 'Vetro a filigrana' is the generic term used to describe glass with a pattern of canes either embedded in the glass matrix or, as here, fused to a colourless glass liner. Patterns of different types are variously identified. Complex patterns of canes like those on the body, knop and foot of this ewer are known as 'vetro a retorti', whereas parallel lines of single canes, seen here on the handle, are known as 'vetro a fili'. The combination here of 'vetro a filigrana' glass with an elaborately mould-blown body indicates that the ewer was made in the late sixteenth century, when complex juxtapositions of this type were much appreciated.
    This ewer is a very sophisticated all-glass hybrid in which a replacement foot with merese has been attached to the ewer below the knop, presumably because the original foot was damaged. Strong market demand for Venetian Renaissance glass in the later nineteenth century was undoubtedly a major reason for the production of such repairs.