The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Tazza
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Venice or possibly Low Countries (façon de Venise)
  • second half of the 16th- early 17th century
  • Colourless glass with an incorporated 'vetro a retorti' band in 'lattimo' glass; mould-blown, applied and tooled features; gilding.
  • Height: 10.2 cm
    Diameter: 18 cm
  • C526
  • Sixteenth Century Gallery
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This shallow stemmed bowl, known as a tazza, is a fine example of the virtuosity of Renaissance glass-makers. The way the bowl form has been formed in a thinly blown soda-lime glass, with its very localized upturned edge evenly encircling the otherwise flat surface without becoming misshapen, is a feat of craftsmanship of the highest rank. The gilding, in the form of gold leaf, was applied and fused to the glass during the hot working process.
    Stemmed glasses with shallow bowls, of tazza shape, were variously used as wine glasses, as items of display or for serving fruit and sweetmeats. Their considerable variety in height may indicate their purpose. This particular tazza was probably intended as a wine glass, despite its shallow bowl. There is well documented evidence from the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries of the Italian partiality for drinking wine from shallow glasses.
    This example is unusual in combining a shallow bowl with a band of 'vetro a retorti' decoration ( a pattern of white canes incorporated into the clear glass) and a lion-mask stem. Lion-mask stems were produced for a long period, from the mid-sixteenth to mid-seventeenth centuries, both in Venice and in other European centres producing glass in the Venetian style.
    Shallow, stemmed vessels were also used in the Netherlands and some fine examples are thought to have been made there.The attribution of this tazza is based on its combination of technical virtuosity and colourless glass which epitomises Venetian production at its best. An accumulation of other Venetian features reinforces this attribution: a 'vetro a filigrana' band, milled trails and a characteristic stem form. However, the virtuosity that could be achieved by glass-makers working in the Venetian style in the Low Countries, together with the popularity of shallow-stemmed vessels there, means that a Low Countries origin cannot be ruled out for this exquisite glass.