Date: ca. 1475–1500
Culture: Italian, Venice, Murano
Medium: Glass, enameled and gilded
Dimensions: Overall (confirmed): H. 6 7/8 x W. 3 7/16 in. (17.5 x 8.7 cm); Diameter of cup: 3 1/8 in. (7.9 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number: 17.190.730a, b
This fine, deep blue Venetian glass bears exquisite enameling, an early survival of this technique and scale of decoration. The enameling, reminiscent of manuscript illumination, illustrates an apocryphal story about the Latin poet Virgil, transformed in the popular medieval imagination into a magician. Taking revenge on the maiden Febilla who spurned his advances, Virgil magically extinguished all the fires in Rome and cruelly demanded that Febilla be exposed in the marketplace until all of the city's women had rekindled their fires with tapers lighted from an enchanted live coal he had placed inside her body.