Glass flask with a portrait of Henry VII, King of England


British Museum

British Museum

On one side of the flask is a portrait medallion of Henry VII, king of England (1485-1509) and on the other, his personal emblem of portcullis and chains in a sunburst. Lattimo glass ('milky glass') was developed, like maiolica (tin-glazed earthenware), to rival the white surface of Chinese porcelain that was so prized throughout Europe. Lattimo glass, and coloured glass of varying shades of blue, green and turquoise, was perfected in Venice before the end of the fifteenth century. Lattimo and coloured glass with luxurious gilt and enamelled decoration was especially popular in the European courts. The painted enamels and applied gold leaf was carried out by specialists, among whom was Giovanni Maria Obizzo, working around 1488-1525. It is possible that Obizzo decorated this flask as a special commission; it may have been one of the gifts for Henry VII, brought to London in 1506 on behalf of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino (1482-1508). Henry's portrait and emblem may have been copied directly from a coin. The distinctive shape of the flask, particularly the ring handles, is based on contemporary tin-glazed earthenware that was extremely fashionable in northern Europe.

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  • Title: Glass flask with a portrait of Henry VII, King of England
  • Date Created: 1500/1509
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 198.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: gilded; painted
  • Subject: heraldry; king/queen; crown
  • Registration number: 1979,0401.1
  • Production place: Made in Venice
  • Producer: Attributed to Obizzo, Giovanni Maria
  • Material: glass; gold; enamel
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Clarke, T H


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