- Abbey Museum Case 12
- c 1650 AD
- H 140 mm rim D 80 mm
This crystal soda glass goblet has a large, funnel shaped bowl on a complex hollow stem with a double knop and blue serpentine wings in the Venetian style.
High-quality soda glass was first developed and successfully marketed by the Venetians in the 15th century. Called cristallo, after the rock crystal that it imitated, it was made with a soda flux derived from sea plants. By the 16th century, soda glass was being produced in many parts of Europe.
Venetian glassworkers came to the Netherlands in the 1530s. In the late 16th to early 17th century, Venice increasingly lost her trade dominance to the Low Countries, today’s Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Consequently, within a hundred years or so, the Low Countries would have more
Venetian-style glasshouses than could be found anywhere else in Europe. Glasshouses were established in prosperous cities like Amsterdam, Middelburg and Antwerp where affluent merchants were buying luxury goods.
Goblets in the Venetian style, with elaborate winged stems became the great fashion in the Netherlands in the 17th century. The wings, often made of pale aqua blue glass were shaped like serpents.
If you do an Internet search on “serpent goblet”, the first group of results will refer to Harry Potter! However, this wine glass predates Harry Potter by 350 years. The serpent has been described as a symbol of fertility and a creative life force, or alternatively as a symbol of danger and death. All this aside, the intricate detail of the serpent stem on this glass is a symbol of the glassmaker’s virtuosity.
Where is it?
This artefact is on display now in case 12 titled ‘Luxury in Glass’, featuring glass from 1600-1850AD. You may go back to the Exhibition Home page and browse our virtual tour.