Filigree Drinking Glasses


two antique filigree drinking glasses


Part of the Illuminating Objects series: 24 July to 4 November 2013

This study is a collaboration with Victoria Druce, who studied at Imperial College London for a postgraduate degree in Science Communication. Her objects, a Venetian style 16th century goblet (above left) and an 18th century English wine glass (above right), span a fascinating era of European glass making. This project aims to explore the scientific and craft nature of the objects including their chemical compositions and the technique behind the creation of their striking decoration. Find out more.

goblet glass detail
This goblet could have been made in either Venice or in the Low countries by an immigrant glassblower. X-ray fluorescence testing (using the Brucker X-ray fluorescence spectrometer) on this 16th century goblet revealed significant impurities, suggesting the glass is not cristallo but is more likely to be Vitrum Blanchum, a less refined type of glass.


Charleston R. J. 1984 English Glass and the glass used in England, c.400-1940. George Allen & Unwin (Publishers) Ltd. London. 
Corning Museum of Glass Youtube Channel – Glass Demonstrations
Frides Lameris Art and Antiques. A Collection of Filigrana Glass
Higgott S. 2011 The Wallace Collection: Catalogue of Glass and Limoges Painted Enamels. The Wallace Collection, London
Janssens K. 2013 Modern Methods for Analysing Archaeological and Historical Glass. Volume 1 and Volume 2 John Wiley and Sons, UK
Liefkes R. 1997 Glass Edited by Reino Liefkes. V&A Publications, London
McCray P. W. 1999 Glass Making in Renaissance Venice: The Fragile Craft. Ashgate Publishing Limited, England
Powell H. J. 1923 Glass Making in England Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Rasmussen S. C.  2012 How Glass Changed the World: The History and Chemistry of Glass from Antiquity to the 13th Century. Springer Briefs in Molecular Science History of Chemistry, London
Tait H. 1979 the Golden Age of Venetian Glass, Published for the Trustees of the British Museum by British Museum Publications, London

A retorti and a fili filigree detail

Patterns and Processes

In 1527 brothers Filippo and Bernado Catani (also known as the Serena brothers, after their glassworks) patented a technique known as filigrana.

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