The J. Paul Getty Museum

Ice-Glass Situla (Secchiello)

Object Details


Ice-Glass Situla (Secchiello)




Italian or Netherlandish


Façon de Venise, Netherlands; Murano, Venice, Veneto, Italy (Place Created)


1550 - 1600


Free-blown colorless (slightly grayish-brown) glass with applied decoration

Object Number:



10.2 × 16.8 cm (4 × 6 5/8 in.)

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Object Description

The roughened, frosted surface of this situla is covered by a pattern of fine cracks that resembles shattered ice. This so-called "ice-glass" was made by rolling the hot glass form over bits of broken glass, which then stuck to the vessel. Ice-glass could also be made by plunging the hot glass into cold water, causing a web of tiny cracks to appear, a technique used on a beaker also in the Getty Museum's collection.

Glass pails such as this one copied similar vessels in metal. Beyond being decorative, scholars are uncertain how these vessels would have been used; they may have functioned as finger bowls at the dinner table. A 1458 inventory of a Venetian abbey mentions a bucket "for holy water" that was kept in a box with other glasses, suggesting that the bucket was also used in religious rituals.