Glass 'betrothal' goblet


British Museum

British Museum

The bowl of this emerald-green 'betrothal' goblet has painted enamel decoration of two portrait medallions draped with garlands held by putti (cherubs). On one side is a lady with a stylized flower, on the other a gentleman with a scroll bearing the motto 'AMOR.VOL.FEE' (‘Love Requires Faith').

The painted enamel decoration is of extremely high quality. The two profile portraits depict the fashionable Venetians of the social world often seen in the paintings of the artist Vittore Carpaccio (about 1460/5-1525/6).

Both portraits and inscription suggest that this glass may have been a betrothal or wedding gift of an élite couple. Betrothal was marked by elaborate gifts and exchanges within the families to be linked by marriage.

Coloured glass of varying shades of translucent blue and green, opaque white or turquoise, was perfected in Venice before the end of the fifteenth century. Luxurious gilt and enamelled decoration on clear, lattimo (opaque white) and coloured glass was especially popular in the European courts. Specialists, some of them women, carried out the painted enamel decoration and applied gold leaf, which were fixed to the surface of the glass in a low-temperature kiln.

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  • Title: Glass 'betrothal' goblet
  • Date Created: 1450/1499
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 22.30cm; Diameter: 10.50cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: gilded; enamelled
  • Subject: heraldry; flower
  • Registration number: S.361
  • Production place: Made in Venice
  • Producer: Attributed to Obizzo, Giovanni Maria
  • Material: glass; gold; enamel
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Slade, Felix. Previous owner/ex-collection Soltykoff, P. Previous owner/ex-collection Debruge-Dumenil, Louis Fidel


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