Diameter: 10.900 cm
Room 40: Medieval Europe
The Aldrevandini Beaker
Venice, around AD 1330
The Aldrevandini beaker is a uniquely well-preserved example from a group of glass vessels produced in Venice at the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth century.
An inscription on the beaker, running between bands of red and yellow paint, reads 'MAGISTER ALDREVANDIN. ME.FECI' ('Master Aldrevandin made me'). Beneath the inscription are three heraldic shields set against a background of leaves. Two of the shields are yellow, one decorated with three blue stags' horns and the other with red keys. The third consists of black and white horizontal bars. This combination of three different shields suggests that the heraldry is purely decorative and that the beaker was not produced for a specific person or family.
The beaker's place of manufacture has proved a puzzle to scholars. For many years it was considered to be 'Syro-Frankish', based on the theory that Crusaders had commissioned glass from Christian and Jewish glassmakers working in the Islamic tradition on the Syrian coast. But it differs from Islamic glass in a number of ways. Unlike the Aldrevandini beaker, Syrian vessels produced in the thirteenth century tend to taper from the base out to the rim. Also, both the internal and external surfaces of this beaker are painted, whereas Syrian glass is painted only on the external face, and yellow paint has been used rather than gold. But by 1988, after many fragments of similar vessels had been found in excavations in Europe, it was possible to say with confidence that the beaker was produced in Venice.
H. Tait (ed.), Five thousand years of glass-1, 2nd paperback edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)
S. Carboni and D. Whitehouse, Glass of the Sultans (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001)