Prowess and virtuosity are highlighted in these beautiful glasses, the centrepieces of one of the most beautiful sections of our collections. The smooth, ribbed or friezed goblets stand on an extravagant leg, which is formed by one or more glass coils encrusted with red and white twisted watermarks and decorated with fins that have been worked with the pliers; the two upper fins seem to represent a stylised animal's head.
This type of ceremonial glass, which was created in Murano before the end of the 16th century, was produced during the 17th century in continental Europe. In fact, despite the threat of very severe penalties, Murano craftsmen emigrated with all their expertise, as well as manufacturing secrets and technical glass-making processes. They made glasses in the style of the island, or adapted Venetian decoration to local forms. It is known, from the archives of manufacturers in Liège and Brussels, that the Bonhomme glassworks produced this type of piece. As a result, between 1659 and 1663, 8,000 snake glasses were sold in Brussels by Bonhomme, but some of these pieces could also have been imported from the southern Netherlands or from Germany. Glass craftsmen were generally paid 4 florins, or 80 cents, for 24 "well-made" pieces.
Some glasses had a lid that was also adorned with filigree coils. These also form the main element of the dorsal suspension of bedside stoups, which were made in the 18th century, mainly in the southern Netherlands and France.