The Behaim Beaker

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Object Name: 
The Behaim Beaker
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 10.7 cm; Rim Diam: 7.8 cm; Foot Diam: 6.4 cm
On Display
probably 1495
Credit Line: 
Purchased with funds from the Museum Endowment Fund
Web Description: 
The Behaim Beaker is a fine example of Venetian cristallo, and it demonstrates how glass from Venice commanded attention abroad. The beaker bears a coat of arms and two panels, each of which contains a figure. The coat of arms belongs to the Behaim family of Nuremberg. One panel depicts the archangel Michael killing a dragon; the other shows Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The unusual combination of Michael and Catherine requires an explanation. It is thought that the beaker was made for the wedding, on July 7, 1495, of a Nuremberg patrician, Michael Behaim, and Katerina Lochnerin, the daughter of a rich merchant whose firm controlled trade between Nuremberg and Venice. If this explanation is correct, the Behaim Beaker is an outstanding illustration of fine Venetian glassware custom-made for export to Germany. It also demonstrates two of the features of Venetian glass that attracted widespread attention: the excellence of cristallo and the brilliance of the gilded and enameled ornament. The Behaim Beaker appears to be the earliest Venetian gilded and enameled glass that can be dated precisely.
Biemann, Fritz, Former Collection
von Hirsch, Robert, Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Behaim Beaker. Colorless. Blown; enameled, gilded. Beaker: barrel shaped, with fire-polished rim; integral foot with articulated foot-ring and pontil mark. Below rim, gilded band with scratched design of scales, with rounded side up, between lines and denticular frieze below. Light blue dots adorn scales, red dots decorate denticular frieze, and dense row of white dots and scattered row of blue dots appear below gilding. Above foot, gilded band is scratched into circlets that hold, alternately, blue dot and red dot. Between bands, continuous green ground with black sprigs and white enamel dots; three gold trees, with green and blue enamel dots enlivened with white enamel dots, subdivide surface for large coat of arms and two cusped white and yellow frames with representations of archangel Michael and Saint Catherine. Targe per pale of gules and argent, overall a bend wavy sinister sable; crest a bird argent, gorged with crown sable; helmet mantlings red, lined with white.
Corning Museum of Glass
Changing Exhibitions Gallery
Art and Love in Renaissance Italy
Metropolitan Museum of Art 2008-11-17 through 2009-02-15
Kimbell Art Museum 2009-03-15 through 2009-06-14
Corning Museum of Glass 2004-05-13 through 2004-10-17
The Art of Glass: Masterpieces from The Corning Museum of Glass
IBM Gallery 1989-12-12 through 1990-02-03
National Gallery of Art 1990-12 through 1991-04
Through the Looking Glass: A Set of Table Goblets at Palazzo Falson, Mdina (2015) illustrated, p. 49; fig. 6, 7; BIB# AI101298
Glass: A Short History (Smithsonian Books edition) (2012) illustrated, pp. 64-65; BIB# 130360
Glass: A Short History (The British Museum edition) (2012) illustrated, pp. 64-65; BIB# 135965
Medieval Glass for Popes, Princes, and Peasants (2010) illustrated, pp. 242-243, #121; BIB# 115588
Richard La Londe and Friends (2009) illustrated, p. 29, right; BIB# 112312
Art and Love in Renaissance Italy (2008) illustrated, p. 96, cat. 28, view 1 & 2, Fig. 61; BIB# 106342
European Glass in the Venetian Style 1500-1750 (2004-08) illustrated, p. 71; BIB# AI63553
Beyond Venice: Glass in Venetian Style, 1500-1750 (2004) illustrated, preface, fig. 1; BIB# 79761
Erinnerungen eines Glassammlers und vieles mehr (2003) illustrated, pp. 76-78; BIB# 76551
Painting on Glass: Contemporary Designs, Simple Techniques (2000) illustrated, p. 7, top; BIB# 133926
Wedding Traditions: Here Comes the Bride (1997) illustrated, p. 2; BIB# 159842
L'Histoire du Verre: A Travers Les Tresors du Musee de Corning (1990) illustrated, p. 60;
Recent Important Acquisitions, 27 (1985) illustrated, p. 98, #5; BIB# AI15253
The Corning Museum of Glass Annual Report 1984 (1985) illustrated, cover; p. 6;
Mille Anni di Arte del Vetro a Venezia (1982) pp. 88-89, #82;
Recent Important Acquisitions, 21 (1979) illustrated, cover, frontispiece;
The Robert von Hirsch Collection, volume 2: Works of Art (1978-06-22) #258, pp. 80-81;
Title Unknown (Weltkunst) (1978-05-15) p. 1193;