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Work Goblet decorated with an allegorical procession

Department of Decorative Arts: Renaissance

Bowl decorated with an allegorical cortège

© 2011 RMN / Franck Raux

Decorative Arts

Barbier Muriel

This blue glass goblet with gilded enamel decoration was made by craftsmen on the Venetian island of Murano, possibly in the workshop of Angelo Barovier (d. 1496), a glassmaker who brought enameling to the highest peak of artistry. The decoration depicts an allegorical procession inspired by Petrarch. This piece is representative of the colored glass developed and perfected by Murano glassmakers during the fifteenth century.

A colored glass goblet with enameled and gilded decoration

During the Renaissance, in Venice but especially in Murano, a very high level of excellence was achieved in the art of blown glass, particularly under the impetus of Angelo Barovier (d. 1496). Around 1450, Barovier managed to produce a very pure glass known as "cristallo", by purging glass paste of the impurities that prevented it from vitrifying. He also succeeded in producing various types of opaque and colored glass. The azure blue of this goblet was achieved by mixing cobalt metal-oxide with the glass paste. The gilded enamel decoration was fixed at the time of firing, when the glass would have become slightly softer, causing the enamel to fuse with the paste.

A wedding goblet

The Louvre has four blue glass goblets of a similar shape, with a tall ribbed stem supporting the circular bowl. The cups were given as wedding presents to be exchanged between the bride and groom during the ceremony. A similar goblet is preserved in the Museo Vetrario in Murano, decorated with a frieze showing a group of ladies on horseback and a Fountain of Youth, together with two medallions featuring profiles of a man and a woman. The Louvre example has a procession of young people inspired by the Triumphs of Petrarch (allegorical poems dedicated to Desire, Chastity, Glory, Death, Time and Eternity). Wedding goblets usually bore medallions containing profiles of the married couple. These are absent here, although the cup may still have been intended for this purpose.

Attribution to the workshop of Angelo Barovier

Angelo Barovier was an acknowledged master of the art of glass enameling in Murano in the second half of the fifteenth century. Little is known of his life and work, however. He was responsible for introducing new techniques for the production of items in colored, enameled and gilded glass. His innovations earned him permission from the Venetian authorities to travel abroad (a rare privilege at the time) and to practice his art throughout the year. The goblet in the Museo Vetrario in Murano has traditionally been attributed to Barovier; the attribution of the Louvre goblet is based on stylistic similarlties between the two.

Technical description

  • Workshop of Angelo BAROVIER?

    Bowl decorated with an allegorical cortège

    C. 1480


  • Enamelled and gilded coloured glass

  • Baronne Salomon de Rothschild bequest, 1922 , 1922

    OA 7564

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Room 518
    Display case 2

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