Artist: Northern European
Title: Serpent-Stemmed Goblet (Façon de Venise), about 1600
Museum purchase/Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. Glass Purchase Fund
Manganese dioxide (MnO2) is known as the glassmaker’s soap, because it produces a nearly colorless glass. Naturally occurring iron impurities in sand give glass a greenish color. When added to a batch, MnO2 interacts with the iron, changing the color of the object to a faint yellow or purple.
The additive was first used in 15th-century Venice by Angelo Barovier. The glass was called cristallo. To the Venetians, it looked just like rock crystal, or clear quartz found in nature. Made à la façon-de-venise, or “in the manner of Venice,” this goblet from northern Europe emphasizes the influence of Venetian glass on neighboring lands.