Height: 5.500 cm
Diameter: 24.200 cm
Bequeathed by Felix Slade (1868)
M&ME Slade 373
Prehistory and Europe
From Venice, Italy
1st quarter of the 16th century AD
The commission of a wealthy Sienese family
This clear glass tazza, or footed bowl, has an armorial shield at the centre of the bowl (Azure a cross between four doves or, bordure gules and or), thought to be that of the Colombini family of Siena.
Wealthy Italian families, statesmen and churchmen would have commissioned presentation pieces, such as tazzas, dishes and jugs, to be painted with their coats-of-arms. The commission might commemorate a wedding, political alliance or the occasion of an honour.
Until the late sixteenth century, when their own glass-houses were sufficiently skilled to compete, Northern European patrons also commissioned armorial pieces from the Venetian glass-houses. This tazza demonstrates a number of the great technical skills and high artistic achievement perfected in Venetian glass workshops by the beginning of the sixteenth century. The clear glass has almost no imperfections; its transparency is emphasized by the wide, shallow bowl on the wide, spreading foot. The clarity of the glass is not hidden by enamelled decoration, which is confined to the rim and central armorial. The gilt scale pattern enclosed by rows of dots is quite typical of the border decoration used for tazzas and dishes at this time, and is also found on maiolica decoration. The same pattern is seen on a smaller scale around the rim of the central armorial.
D. Thornton, The scholar in his study, owne (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1997)
H. Tait, The golden age of Venetian gla, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1979)