Glass in the Ximenez Inventory

Glass objects are omnipresent in the inventory, and were clearly an important part of the Ximenez household goods. However, the glass is rarely specified to a degree that makes a proper identification possible.

Drinking glassware in the house was all assembled in one place, the porcelain room, and it was divided into three categories. The first comprised "cristallyn" glass, namely six crystal wine glasses on tall feet and three crystal bowls, while the second was a group of 58 wine glasses without further specification, apparently of lesser quality but worth enough for the exact number to be significant. The third category was glassware assigned to an unnumbered lot ("een partye"). It is probable that the "cristallyn" category consisted of conspicuous masterpieces of glassware à la façon de Venise, as was produced at the neighboring glasshouse of Filippo Gridolfi; but the descriptions do not suffice to make proper attributions.

Bottles are surprisingly rare in the inventory. Several barrels are listed in the basement, but not a single wine bottle. Seven "flesschen" and (smaller) "fleskens" in the porcelain chamber may refer to decanters, again a fairly small number. The purpose of another twelve bottles in an attic near the distillation workshop is not clearly stated. As they were wickered, they may possibly have been bottles with mineral water from Spa, a town near Liège.

Among the scientific instruments, the inventory mentions a large assortment of laboratory glassware, "Two three-sided glasses for seeing different colors," i.e. prisms, and eight brillen, or round glasses, wrapped in paper; these were possibly monocles. The inventory also lists a urinael custodie , a urinal in a leather case for medical diagnosis (uroscopy), and twee fleskens met olie van d'lichaem van Sint-Nicolai de Bari. This information on two bottles, or flasks, with oil from the sepulcher of St. Nicholas of Bari is a rare written evidence of such flasks, of which several have come down to us, such as at The Corning Museum of Glass. These tend to be hexagonal, or less commonly heart-shaped, with a painted portrait of the saint.

The most prominent glass items in the inventory are the mirrors, which were present in the Ximenez household in a wide variety of shapes and materials. Also rather important, in terms of Ximenez's ties to alchemical research, may have been a small collection of glass jewelry.

Dedo von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk, Glasmuseum Hentrich, Düsseldorf


Liefkes, Reino. "Façon de Venise Glass in the Netherlands." Beyond Venice. Glass in Venetian Style, 1500-1750., The Corning Museum of Glass. New York: Hudson Hills, 2004. 227-249.

Krueger, Ingeborg. "Post-Medieval Colored Lead Glass Vessels." Journal of Glass Studies 48 (2006): 225-241.

Glass bottle with oil from the sepulcher of St. Nicholas of Bari, seventeenth century, The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY. Image: © Corning Museum of Glass.