Fiona Giusto
Article by Fiona Giusto

the Barovier Cup of the Glass Museum in Murano

 

If the Mona Lisa and the Rosetta Stone are the must-to-see of the Louvre and the British Museum, the Barovier Cup is the most famous attraction in the Glass Museum in Murano.

The Barovier Cup

Every time I step into the big room on the first floor, the piano nobile, of the former Giustinian Palace, nowadays the seat of the Glass Museum, my eyes are caught by the colour of a cup displayed on its own on the left hand side.

The cup is made of glass, the glass is cobalt blue.
The cup is not big, but the colour is so intense, so electric that I am mesmerized every single time.

the Barovier cup in the Glass Museum in Murano in the copy of the end of the 19th century attributed to Francesco Toso Borella
the Barovier cup in the Glass Museum in Murano in the copy of the end of the 19th century attributed to Francesco Toso Borella

Every time I enjoy walking around the cup in a childish kind of dance.
The cup has a high foot, the original is plain, the copy displayed at the moment has enamelled golden decorations.

foot of the cup in the copy of the end of the 19th century attributed to Francesco Toso Borella
foot of the cup in the copy of the end of the 19th century attributed to Francesco Toso Borella

2 medallions can be very easily detected, the profile of a man and of a woman

medallion with the profile of a man
medallion with the profile of a man
medallion with the profile of a woman
medallion with the profile of a woman

I always wonder in which direction the scenes develop and should be read.

The lady looks towards an empty fountain, to which 5 young ladies are heading on their horses from the right.
A man on the other side (what is he holding in his hand?) looks towards them.

young ladies riding towards the fountain
young ladies riding towards the fountain
the man in the medallion looking towards the ladies
the man in the medallion looking towards the ladies

In between the medallions are the ladies riding on horseback on a green field and ladies bathing in the fountain of love and youth.

ladies bathing in the fountain of love and youth
ladies bathing in the fountain of love and youth
ladies bathing in the fountain of love and youth

Angelo Barovier and crystal glass

The cup is dated back to 1470/80 and attributed to the master glass-blower Angelo Barovier, who discovered crystal glass (vetro cristallino), colourless, very transparent, the recipe of which remained secret. He became so famous that he was called to Milan to the court of Francesco Sforza. If he decorated this cup is quite debatable and pretty unlikely.

A lady on the left of the fountain gives a red flower to the bathing ladies. A rose? A sign of love? It is supposed that the cup was a wedding present. Perhaps a good omen?

the cup seen from the other side in the copy of the end of the 19th century attributed to Francesco Toso Borella
the cup seen from the other side in the copy of the end of the 19th century attributed to Francesco Toso Borella

I try to imagine what it meant to receive such a gift, what the possible objects of a dowry were, who would have owned such a piece?

In a book (1) the author researched over 600 documents of Venetian notaries between 1500 and 1600, a well of info about mobile and immobile properties..

Paintings emerge in 80% of the documents, mainly religious themes (a la greca), portraits, lamps (cesendelli), mirrors, music instruments and weapons. Objects made of glass are found mainly in documents of the nobles, vases, small buckets (secchiello) and cups are also mentioned.

The Museum of Applied Arts in Cologne, MAKK

Unfortunately only a few cups have survived. A cup is in Cologne in the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Cologne. On this cup (15,6 cm h) is depicted a crowded wedding parade, with dancing couples and children playing music on instruments and a young bride and a gentleman with a dove.

On the upper edge an inscription ‚asai dimanda chi servendo tace‘ (lot asketh he, who silently serveth) suggests it was blown on occasion of a wedding.A similar cup with the Flight from Egypt and the Magi is displayed in Bologna in the Museo Civico Medievale.

We BestVeniceGuides would be pleased to guide you through the Glass Museum in Murano in order to discover several other wonderful pieces of glass.

Fiona Giusto
BestVeniceGuides.it
www.venicetours.it

(1)  Dentro le case, Isabella Palumbo Fossati Casa

if interested in booking a tour with Fiona please send a mail to fiona.giusto@gmail.com