Notable Acquisitions: Two-Handled Bowl and Wineglass

This two-handled bowl and wineglass are associated with the glasshouses set up by George Villiers (1628–1687), second duke of Buckingham. Both objects are products of English glassmaking endeavors of the late 17th century and reflect the stylistic influence of 17th-century Venetian glass.

Two-Handled Bowl

Two-Handled Bowl, England, probably glasshouse of the duke of Buckingham, about 1670. 2014.2.4.

Luxury glass was imported to England from Venice as early as 1399. This was due, in no small part, to the skill of Venetian glassmakers, who held a monopoly on the luxury glass industry at that time. The history of English glass in the 16th and 17th centuries centers on the pursuit of a cristallo to replace imported Venetian wares. Buckingham’s glasshouses were among the early English glassmaking ventures that sought to replicate and sell cristallo in England.


Wineglass, England, probably glasshouse of the duke of Buckingham, about 1670, 2014.2.2.

Although the English were eventually able to manufacture glass in the Venetian style, their final products, made of soda- lime glass, remained as fragile as their Venetian counterparts. With the development of lead crystal by the English glassmaker George Ravenscroft (1632–1683) in the 1670s, however, the glasshouses of Buckingham and others faced increasing competition. The material and the cooling properties of Ravenscroft’s glass dictated the final forms of objects. Simple but strong shapes emerged in English glass, and the reflection of the Venetian style began to fade. This departure from fragile façon de Venise glass was a direct result of the improved strength and durability of the newly developed lead crystal.

Take a closer look at this two-handled bowl and wineglass.

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