Façon de Venise decanter with mount

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The Netherlands
Second half 17th century
Clear glass, gilded brass
16.5 cm
11 cm

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This façon de Venise decanter has a spherical hollow blown body made of a double layer of glass, the outer one with a diamond pattern. The pinched handle is fused to the body. The slender neck has a small gilt brass mount and the round stopper is attached to the mount by a small chain. At the bottom of the decanter are traces of the blowpipe. The decanter was made in the Netherlands; the Italian style caraf became accustomed in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century and was used to pour wine during festive diners.

‘Façon de Venise’ is a shortening of the French phrase: ‘à la façon de Venise’, in the Venetian style. This refers to glassware that is made with the Venetian techniques, but is not from Venice. The blown glassware from Venice is known for its high quality and beauty, and the ‘façon de Venise’ is no less than that.  

From the early Middle Ages on, Venetian craftsmen specialized in glassblowing, developing procedures for blowing very thin and refined glass. The hot glass furnaces in the middle of the city posed a fire hazard, and in 1291 the glass industry was therefore moved by decree of the city government to the island of Murano. In this way, the city was protected, and more important: the secrets of the magnificent Venetian glass were protected. Glassblowers were not allowed to leave the island, under penalty of  death, and were in fact imprisoned on Murano. The techniques and composition of the various types of glass, including the colorless and wafer-thin cristallo which was discovered in the fifteenth century, had to remain a Venetian secret. Despite these measures, glass blowers did leave Venice and settled throughout Northern Europe. With their knowledge and skills  they produced glass ‘à la façon de Venise’ there. Venetian influences and local influences fused in these glasses. 


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