Watch a short video of the goblet.
A Goblet from Venice
Size: H:115mm, W:126mm
Made in: Venice or Innsbruck
Made by: Unknown
Venice in the 16th century was the shopping capital of Europe. And as the world’s greatest centre of trade, it was a melting pot of nationalities, religions, classes and cultures all existing within this magnificent city built on water.
For Shakespeare, the city of Venice was something else too. In his plays, Venice becomes a cosmopolitan city of the mind, a laboratory of new social possibilities, where Jews and Christians could mingle freely, where mixed marriages were permitted, where the social and political issues of the modern city could be played out on this pretend and foreign stage.
This goblet was a product of Venice’s world famous glass workers, and tells us that glassblowers were in high demand across Europe to provide luxurious items to adorn the grand palaces of the rich and famous. The painted woman on the goblet also reminds us that Venice was a place of contradictions, where being able to tell the difference between the honourable and dishonourable was a difficult task indeed.
This object is from the British Museum
'Therefore, for fear of the worst, I pray thee set a deep glass of Rhenish wine on the contrary casket, for if the devil be within and that temptation without, I know he will choose it. I will do anything, Nerissa, ere I'll be married to a sponge. '
Merchant of Venice: Act 1 Scene 2
- By the sixteenth century, Venice dominated the luxury glass market across Europe and the eastern Mediterranean
- To create a glass similar to this goblet, you would need materials from Africa, Syria, Germany, Cornwall and Italy
- Venice's glass industry was based on the island of Murano - and strongly regulated by the Venetian government to avoid the glass-making secrets getting out.
- Venetian glass was being imported into England as early as 1399
- The dominance of Venetian glass lasted until the late 17th century and the invention lead crystal glass in England and Czech poltash crystal
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