Beyond Venice: Glass in Venetian Style 1500-1750


Changing Exhibitions Gallery
May 20, 2004 to January 2, 2005

Beyond Venice: Glass in Venetian Style, 1500–1750, was the first exhibition to explore in detail the impact of Venetian style glassmaking outside of Venice.

In the year 1500, the craft of glassmaking in Venice was reaching its peak, creating strong demand for its luxurious glassware. Soon others began imitating its methods and recruiting its craftsmen and, within a few decades, Venetian style glass was being made in many parts of Western Europe.

The exhibition told this story through more than 100 pieces of Renaissance glass from the collections of leading European museums as well as The Corning Museum of Glass and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The objects were supplemented by images and text conveying the historical context of the time.

The show examined the similarities and differences in Venetian style glass produced in Austria, the Low Countries, England, France and Spain. In effect, the exhibition was a tour of Renaissance Europe. Each of these regions made glass that shared some of the distinguishing characteristics of Venetian glassmaking but all were distinctively different from one another.

“It was like a single language with five very different local accents,” said Dr. David D. Whitehouse, curator of the exhibition.

The market for Venetian style glass was made up of the rich and famous of the Renaissance, whether members of princely families or wealthy merchant traders. They all wanted the finest glass for their tables. Despite Venetian attempts to protect their monopoly, craftsmen from Venice and their materials traveled north and west to different parts of Europe.

The Beyond Venice exhibition started with a display of glass made in Venice, the model on which the later glassmaking was based. It examined the anatomy of Venetian style glassmaking, its distinctive qualities such as very clear, brilliant glass and the use of colored glass canes and enamels to decorate the objects. It also explored the ability of the Venetians to identify and obtain the highest quality ingredients and protect their sources of supply.

The show included pieces loaned by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Barcelona, the Boijmans-Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, the Victoria and Albert Museum and British Museum in England, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Wineglass - Artwork
Goblet - Artwork
Covered Goblet - Artwork
Pitcher - Artwork
Plate - Artwork
Beaker - Artwork

Timeline for Historical Context

1497 – John Cabot explores coast of North America

1498 – King Louis XII of France weds Anne of Brittany

1508 – Michelangelo starts painting Sistine Chapel ceiling

1517 – Martin Luther posts his creed on a chapel door

1519 – Hernando Cortes meets Montezuma in Mexico

1533 – Henry VIII marries Ann Boleyn; Elizabeth I is born

1540 – Antwerp is leading European trading center

1556 – Ferdinand I becomes Holy Roman Emperor

1558 – Queen Elizabeth I is crowned; reigns until 1603

1572 – Dutch war of independence begins against Spain

1581 – Sir Francis Drake sails round the world

1588 – Spanish armada sails against England and fails

1596 – Shakespeare writes “The Merchant of Venice”

1600 – Henry IV of France marries Maria de Medici

1615 – Cervantes writes “Don Quixote”

1616 – Galileo brought before the Inquisition

1620 – Mayflower lands at New Plymouth

1626 – New Amsterdam founded on the Hudson River

1631 – Earthquake in Naples. Vesuvius erupts

1632 – Coffee shop opens in London; by 1700 there are 500

1638 – Harvard College founded at Cambridge, Mass

1639 – Rubens paints “Judgement of Paris”

1654 – Pascal and Fermat state theory of probability

1655 – Rembrandt paints “Woman bathing in a stream”

1664 – New Amsterdam becomes New York

1665 – Great Plague of London kills more than 68,000

1666 - Isaac Newton experiments with gravity

1667 – John Milton writes “Paradise Lost”

1675 – Paris is center of European culture

1679 – Habeas Corpus act passed in England

1682 – La Salle claims Louisiana territory for France

1697 – Versailles becomes the model for royal courts

1704 – English take Gibraltar

1705 – Halley correctly predicts return of comet in 1758

1719 – Daniel Defoe writes “Robinson Crusoe”

1721 – J. S. Bach writes “The Brandenburg Concertos”

1742 – Handel’s “Messiah” first performed in Dublin

1751 – Minuet becomes Europe’s fashionable dance

1753 – Ben Franklin invents the lightning conductor