Venetian Glass Bowl for Bonhams Auction

A gem-like blue vase, that has survived intact for five centuries and was once owned by the Rothschild family, is estimated to sell for around £220,000 at Bonhams next sale of Fine British and European Glass on 3rd June.

Known as the Field Cup, it is a highly important Venetian enamelled and gilt blue-tinted standing bowl dating from the late 15th century.

venetian-glass.jpgIt is painted with pairs of winged sphinxes opposing a cherub’s head, alternating with pairs of cherubs seated on gilt urns below a gilt band inscribed TENPORE FELICI MVLTI NOMINANTVR AMICI, which translates as: “In times of abundance one has lots of friends.” It stands 16.5cm high and is 20.8cm in diameter.

Its owners have included: George Field, Baron Alphonse de Rothschild (1827-1905), Paris, Baron Edouard de Rothschild (1868-1949), Paris, and Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild (1914-1999), Tel Aviv. It was exhibited at The Art Treasures of the United Kingdom, in Manchester in 1857.

Blue-tinted glasses and especially footed bowls of this type are well known in the corpus of Venetian production of the 15th and early 16th centuries. Indeed, Henry VIII of England who ascended the throne 500 years ago, is known to have had ‘standing Cuppes of blewe glasses wt covers to theym paynted and guilte’. The date of the acquisition by the Rothschilds of this stunning glass bowl for their famed collection of Venetian and Islamic enamelled glass is unknown. Nonetheless, it may not be entirely coincidental that Baron Alphonse de Rothschild (1827-1905) married his English cousin Leonora in 1857. Her uncle, Sir Anthony Rothschild, was a major contributor to the Manchester Art Treasures exhibition in that same year, and may have come into contact with George Field. It is possible that Alphonse and Leonora visited the exhibition in Manchester.

The collector, George W. Field, was born on 13 November 1798 and lived at Ashurst Park, a large house set in its own grounds close to Tunbridge Wells, Kent. When he assembled his art collection is unrecorded but Field appears to have been well-known as a collector of Renaissance and Mediaeval art to some of the leading connoisseurs of the day.

In recent years the dating of Venetian enamelled and gilt blue-tinted glass has been assisted by excavations of burial mounds in the Russian Caucasus. An area originally under the control of the Mongol khans of the Golden Horde (1226-1502), the archaeological evidence indicates that such glass was produced in Venice and traded via Italian colonies established along the Silk Road in the 14th and 15th centuries.