Vessel in the form of Boat (Nef)

Object Name: 
Vessel in the form of Boat (Nef)

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Object Name: 
Vessel in the form of Boat (Nef)
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
2009.3.8
Dimensions: 
Overall H: 27.3 cm, W: 20.3 cm, D: 12.7 cm
Location: 
On Display
Date: 
1550-1600
Credit Line: 
Purchased in part with funds from the F. M. Kirby Foundation
Web Description: 
Nefs (the term comes from the Old French word for “ship”) were luxurious table ornaments and pouring vessels used at royal courts in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. They were made in gold and silver, semiprecious stones, and glass. The first glass nefs are thought to have been produced by Armenia Vivarini on the island of Murano in 1521. Georgius Agricola described a vessel in the form of a ship in his De re metallica (The nature of metals), published in Basel in 1556. This suggests that emigrant Venetian glass artists created objects of this kind in northern Europe not long after they were first made in Venice. This extraordinary vessel in the form of a ship is a technical tour de force and a pinnacle of Renaissance Venetian glassmaking. It is a rare surviving example of one of two basic types of glass nefs that can be distinguished by the shape of their bodies and the presence or absence of trailed decoration. This nef is missing its finial, a small whistle in the form of a hollow fish or dragon, and its handle, which probably resembled a bulbous lantern. The clarity of the cristallo (glass that looks like colorless rock crystal), the impressive size and shape, and the very skillful technical execution of the object explain the enormous appreciation for such glass ornaments (and related drinking-game glasses and table fountains), which were used at banquets for serving wine.
Department: 
Provenance: 
Kunstzalen A. Vecht, Source
Category: 
Primary Description: 
Vessel in Form of Boat (Nef). Colorloess, translucent deep blue. Blown; tooled, applied, gilded. Nef. Deep, bulbous bowl tapered on one side and flattened on other side to imitate shape of ship, “prow” of which is formed into long spout with applied wrap on rim. Lower two-thirds of “hull” is decorated with continuous fine spiral thread, and with gilded lion mask framed by two prunts of translucent blue glass on either side. Bowl is surmounted by “rigging” of colorless glass (top ornament, originally in colorless and translucent blue glass, is now missing); joined by merese to flattened mold-blown ribs ball knop; attached by merese to pedestal foot with infolded rim and pontil mark.
Venue(s)
Corning Museum of Glass
Changing Exhibitions Gallery
The Corning Museum of Glass: Notable Acquisitions 2009 (2010) illustrated, pp. 12-13, #4; BIB# AI79879
Medieval Glass for Popes, Princes, and Peasants (2010) illustrated, pp. 246-247, #124; BIB# 115588
The Corning Museum of Glass Annual Report 2009 (2010) illustrated, pp. 5, 6; BIB# AI86944
Recent Acquisitions (2009) illustrated, p. 11 (left); BIB# AI78620