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French, Footed Glass Bowl Resembling Lapis Lazuli, cast, carved, ground, and polished opaque blue glass; silver gilt mount, about 1640–60. 3 ½ in. Glass Pavilion, Gallery 4
During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, semi-precious stones ranked highest in the hierarchy of materials “made by nature.” Therefore objects made from them were reserved for the royal families and the most elite citizens of Europe. Vessels carved from rock crystal, agate, or lapis lazuli imparted splendor to aristocratic tables and collector’s cabinets and were kept in royal treasuries. This unique shell-shaped cup with French silver gilt mounts appears to be made of lapis lazuli but is, in fact, carved from a solid block of glass. It successfully resembles the opacity and natural veining of the expensive, semi-precious stone, which was imported into Europe from Afghanistan.
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