The J. Paul Getty Museum

Pilgrim Flask

Object Details


Pilgrim Flask






Murano, Venice, Veneto, Italy (Place Created)


late 15th or early 16th century


Free-blown colorless (slightly pink) glass with gold leaf, enamel, and applied decoration

Object Number:



37.6 × 20 cm (14 13/16 × 7 7/8 in.)

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Object Description

From the shape of dried gourds used by travelers to carry drinking water, metalworkers patterned their versions of these flasks. From the metal examples, with their tall tapering necks and flat oval bodies, artists in glass and ceramics made their own purely decorative versions of these pilgrim flasks. The gilded knobs attached to the sides above and below the bulge of the body imitate the loops that would have originally attached the flask to the pilgrim's side; glassworkers retained them as a decorative reminder of the vessel's earlier function.

A variety of decorative techniques embellish this heavy glass pilgrim flask. Bands of gold leaf, incised in a crosshatched pattern and framed by a single row of white enamel dots, garnish the mouth and foot rim. At the base of the neck is a similar but plain band. A decorative medallion in incised gold leaf and blue and white dots adorns the center of each side of the body.

Three Great Centuries of Venetian Glass: A Special Exhibition (1958)
  • The Corning Museum of Glass (Corning), 1958
The Arts of Fire: Islamic Influences on the Italian Renaissance (May 4 to September 5, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 4 to September 4, 2004
Traversing the Globe through Illuminated Manuscripts (January 22 to June 26, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 22 to June 26, 2016

Three Great Centuries of Venetian Glass, exh. cat. (Corning, New York: The Corning Museum, 1958), p. 55, no. 39.

Husband, Timothy B., and Jane Hayward. The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters, 1975), p. 47, no. 45, pl. 2.

Charleston, R.J., and M. Archer. "Glass and Stained Glass." The James A. De Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor (Fribourg, 1977), pp. 91-93, no. 17.

"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985), p. 245, no. 180.

Dreier, F.-A. Venezianische Gläser und Façon de Venise: Katalog des Kinstgewerbemuseums Berlin (Berlin, 1989), p. 49, no. 17.

Bremer-David, Charissa, et al. Decorative Arts: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), p. 217, no. 378.

Ritsema van Eck, P.C., and H.M. Zijlstra-Zweens. Glass in the Rijksmuseum, vol. 1 (Amsterdam/Zwolle, 1993), no. 3.

Hess, Catherine, and Timothy Husband. European Glass in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), pp. 87-89, no. 20.

Wilson, Gillian, and Catherine Hess. Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 235, no. 482.

Hess, Catherine, ed. The Arts of Fire: Islamic Influences on Glass and Ceramics of the Italian Renaissance, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004), pp. 98-99, pl. 12.