Milliefiori glass pitcher, c. 1838, made in Murano, Venice, Italy, gift of Laura Moss, 1936.4.748.
“Milleifiori” is a combination of the Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers) which is an accurate name for this botanical pitcher. This complicated glass-working technique was first mastered by the Romans. However, the exact procedure was lost to time, but Venetian glass workers created their own replica. The reinvention of this glass ware made Venetian glass workers extremely valuable to the Venetian Republic. For the safety of a city built entirely of wood, Venetian officials banned all furnaces and foundries within the city. Glass makers were isolated on the small island of Murano. This isolation to Murano allowed Venice to keep the technique secret for many centuries and thus financially exploit their monopoly.