Glass 'betrothal' goblet
From Venice, Italy
End of the 15th century AD
The bowl of this emerald-green 'betrothal' goblet has painted enamel decoration of two portrait medallions draped with garlands held by putti (cherubs). On one side is a lady with a stylized flower, on the other a gentleman with a scroll bearing the motto 'AMOR.VOL.FEE' (‘Love Requires Faith').
The painted enamel decoration is of extremely high quality. The two profile portraits depict the fashionable Venetians of the social world often seen in the paintings of the artist Vittore Carpaccio (about 1460/5-1525/6).
Both portraits and inscription suggest that this glass may have been a betrothal or wedding gift of an élite couple. Betrothal was marked by elaborate gifts and exchanges within the families to be linked by marriage.
Coloured glass of varying shades of translucent blue and green, opaque white or turquoise, was perfected in Venice before the end of the fifteenth century. Luxurious gilt and enamelled decoration on clear, lattimo (opaque white) and coloured glass was especially popular in the European courts. Specialists, some of them women, carried out the painted enamel decoration and applied gold leaf, which were fixed to the surface of the glass in a low-temperature kiln.
P. Fortini Brown, Art and life in Renaissance Ve (New York, 1997)
D.B. Harden and others, The British Museum: masterpiec (London, 1968)
L. Syson and D.F. Thornton, Objects of virtue: art in Rena (London, The British Museum Press, 2001)
H. Tait, The golden age of Venetian gla, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1979)
Diameter: 10.500 cm
M&ME Slade 361
Bequeathed by Felix Slade (1868)