Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Monteith with arms of Gibbs and Nelthorpe

Engraved glass
Overall: 6 5/8 × 12 1/4 in. (16.8 × 31.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Florence Ellsworth Wilson, 1943
Accession Number:
Not on view
Monteiths, filled with ice water, were used to cool wineglasses, which were suspended in the water by the foot held in the notches of the rim. At the time this piece was made, monteiths were primarily of silver; thus this rare example is an unusually large object to be found in glass. The piece was engraved (with a diamond point) with the arms commemorating the marriage of William Gibbs of Horsley Park, Essex, and the heiress Mary Nelthorpe and inscribed with the name of the groom. Around the rim are moralizing inscriptions in Italian, Hebrew, Slavonic, Dutch, French, and Greek (such as "Fear God and honor the King" in the main panel). Cupid sitting between the bride and groom sings from a songbook while musicians assembled around a table play the lute, viol da gamba, and recorder. Other panels are engraved with scenes of country pursuits, such as harvesting and fishing. This monteith is the Museum's earliest example of flint glass, which was perfected in the late seventeenth century in England, where it immediately became the preferred material, having equal strength but greater inner "fire," or luminosity, than the Venetian and German imports.
Inscription: Engraved around top, below notches: W I L L I AM G I B B S Esq. / 1700

Engraved on front panel, in Hebrew: יְרָא אֶתֹ יְהוֹהָ וְכְבוֹד הַמֶלֶךְ [trans.: Fear God and honor the King]

Engraved on second panel, in Italian: Chi vol dir mal d'altrui pensa prima / di lui [trans.: He who wishes to speak ill of another, let him first give thought to himself]

Engraved on third panel, in Old Russian: [trans.: To health and friendship]

Engraved on fourth panel, in Old Dutch: In Godes wegen is Gods / fetten [trans.: If it is done God's way, it is with God's blessing]

Engraved on fifth panel, in Greek: [trans.: The good things are difficult]

Engraved on sixth panel, in French: Nul bien sans peine [trans.: No success without difficulty]
William and Mary (Nelthorpe) Gibbs (from 1700) ; by descent, Jane Gibbs (daughter of William Gibbs and Mary Nelthorpe) ; by descent, Mary Nelthorpe (daughter of Jane Gibbs) ; by descent, Maria Janetta Nelthorpe ; by descent, Dukes of St. Albans ; [ sale, Sotheby's, London , July 12, 1940, lot 45; sold for £195 to N. Weisz ] ; N. Weisz (from 1940) ; Florence Ellsworth Wilson , New York (until 1943; bequeathed to MMA))
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