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Illuminating Objects: European Filigree Glass

Goblet  Venice or Venetian style (Amsterdam or Antwerp)  c. 1550-1625.  Filigree glass, mould-blown.  Samuel Courtauld Trust: Gambier Parry Bequest, 1966.


THE FOURTH display in the Illuminating Objects programme at The Courtauld Gallery focuses on two kinds of filigree glass in The Courtauld’s collection of decorative arts.

Both are drinking glasses: the first, a Venetian or ‘Venetian-style’ (façon de Venise) filigree goblet, drawing upon the technologies and shapes developed on the Venetian island of Murano. Murano glass techniques migrated to Northern Europe and this example could have been made by an Italian craftsman in either Antwerp or Amsterdam in the 16th century.

The second piece is a Georgian wine glass, probably made in London in the early 18th century, of so-called ‘lead glass’ (glass with the addition of oxide of lead) and with a network stem of eye-watering precision.

Victoria Druce, the intern who has researched these objects, is currently completing an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College, London, having trained as a chemist. She is interested in the materials involved in the making of glass and the various changes in glass composition (recipes) from country to country.

This display will encourage close examination of these two examples of awe-inspiring craftsmanship in ornamentation. The glasses will be shown alongside the Courtauld’s collection of 18th century British and Italian paintings and English silver.

The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN