About this artwork
This large vase, one of a pair in the Art Institute, was part of a garniture—a set of large ornamental vessels, often ceramic or precious metal like silver—displayed on tall cabinets or fireplace mantels. Glass garnitures are rare, and likely intended to replicate rock crystal (quartz) vessels. The fine silver-gilt mounts add ornament as well as strengthen their fragile rims. Another similar vase is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which may have been part of the same garniture.
Late seventeenth-century glass production in the Netherlands was highly experimental. Large vessels like these represented the technical limits for the art of glass blowing in this period. Risks were also taken in the composition of the glass. Concocted from an unstable formula of potash (alkali), lime, and silica, both vases are now crizzled (cracked all over), creating a hazy-effect. It is unclear in the case of these vases if this crizzling happened immediately after production or as it decomposed over time.
- Vase (One of a Pair)
- Northern Netherlands (Object made in)
- Glass and gilt silver
- 41.3 × 14.6 cm (16 1/4 × 5 3/4 in.)
- Gift of Neville and John Bryan