The glass collection of the Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis is constituted by nuclei of national and foreign production, dating mainly from the 18th and the 19th centuries. Especially contemplated is the early phase of national industrialised glass production, while the importance of importations in this sector is reflected by lines of 18th century production from foreign glass manufacturers, in a series of models and a wide variety of forms.
Prominent among specimens of the national industry dating from the 1800’s is a set of armorial glasses with inscriptions allusive to D. João V and D. José I. It has been possible to identify some pieces and to attribute their function by reference to an 18th century catalogue of a Portuguese manufacturer. Thus, there are pieces designated as English beakers, Portuguese beakers, Canada glasses, tumblers for liquor, salvers, footed flasks with screw-thread stoppers, tobacco jars with threaded stoppers, or cruets with a salver foot. Jars and goblets, the typologies prevalent at that time, are those present in the largest number in the collection.
The nucleus of national production includes pieces from the 19th century manufactured in the Real Fábrica da Vista Alegre, contemplating some pieces of moulded glass according to its first catalogue, dated 1829.
Among foreign glassware, the Catalan production from the late 17th and 18th centuries is marked by great originality. Also of Spanish origin and one of the most characteristic pieces from the Real Fábrica de La Granja de San Ildefonso are the delicate fire-gilt glasses, on display as part of a dining service.
18th century glasses with painting in enamel are characterized by their forms and stereotyped ornamental motifs. Some examples dated and with inscriptions, allow us to ascribe their origin to Bohemian glassworks. During the second half of the 18th century the same painting in enamel was applied to opaline glass from glasshouses in Saxony and Spain.