Museo Galileo
Virtual Museum
Cimento glassware: decorations

Beginning in the late sixteenth century, and especially between 1628 and 1670, the Granducal glassworks produced glassware of great complexity and beauty. The artists designed and engineered these extremely delicate objects in odd, amusing shapes, with complex "centerpiece" structures. But the craftsmen also took into account the research and experiments of the Accademia del Cimento, familiarizing themselves with the scientific ideas discussed by their contemporaries. Reciprocally, the scientists used vases, cups, and drinking-glasses as vessels and "contrivances" for their experiments, turning standard objects into scientific equipment. The Grand Duke's able glassblowers—the "Gonfia"—applied the canons of Baroque style and taste typical of their day even to the making of actual scientific instruments.

Produced by the same glassblowers, the scientific instruments devised and used by the Accademia del Cimento display patterns and features characteristic of their period. While tailored to the experiments to be performed, their structure is inspired by standard seventeenth-century glassware models. The objects exhibit several types of decoration:

Bugne [blobs]

Drops of glass applied to a glass body, typically a glass or cup, for ornamentation.


Special decoration that consists in applying a still-plastic glass filament and working it with pincers.

Filigree glass or vetro a fili [thread glass]

Decoration obtained by embedding opaque white or colored glass canes. The opaque glass used was often lattimo.

Serpent motif

Decoration composed of serpent-like spirals and coils. Applied to glass stems, it was produced by twisting rods of white and colored glass. The rods were often later embellished with pincer-worked ornaments.

Trionfo da tavola [Centerpiece]

Special production method used for tableware at the Medici court. Reached its apogee between 1621 and 1670, under Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany (1610-1670).