Kugel in Millefiori-Technik

Millefiori ball

Venice, after 1500
Glass embedded with coloured glass and gold
diameter 3.25 cm
Inv. 1917.824.

3625px x 3090px
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With the development of glass manufacturing an inlaying technique had already been evolved in antiquity, based on the ability to draw fine threads from the molten lump of glass, the paraison. However, it required the particular skills of Venetian glassmakers to develop the refined technique that this glass ball exemplifies. Fine glass rods of various colours were fused together and the resulting fragile and colourful skein of glass was sliced across to produce cross sections in the form of tiny stars and rosettes. These components were combined with spirals twisted from fine ribbons of glass and gold foil and were fused into the clear glass of the ball. In 1495 this type of decoration was described as millefiori (thousand flowers) by the Venetian Marcantonio Sabellico. The technique has continued to be used through the centuries and is still found today, although of coarser execution, in glass paperweights. This rare, early example is listed in Amerbach's inventory of 1578 as "1 venedische Kugelerf (1 Venetian ball). It was included more as a curiosity than for its value and its presence illustrates the diversity of a Renaissance 'Wunderkammer'.

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