Monday, April 14, 2008

Europe: Glass

Gold-glass alabastron, 1st century B.C.
Glass; H. 7 1/8 in. (18 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.194.286)

This vessel is made from alabaster, the soft, white, and see-through stone used in Egypt dating back 2000 B.C. to make bottles used to store the oils and perfumes. Over the next 2000 years the style became thin and beautiful. Except for the one-colour neck, the dark and light colours contrast and the shape of the bottle and swirl design give a flowing rhythm.

Gold-glass bottles, first half of 1st century A.D.
Glass; H. 2 15/16 in. (7.4 cm); H. 3 3/16 in. (8.1 cm)
Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915 (30.115.16)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.194.259)

These Roman glass bottles of 50 AD were made to hold scented oils and perfumes. These bottles have thin necks and large rounded bottoms, vertical repeated line patterns are swirled and marbled with a shiny finish having eye-catching gold leaf inside the glass. This gold against the blue and earth coloured backgrounds adds to the texture.

Garland bowl, late 1st century B.C.–early 1st century A.D.; Augustan
Glass; H. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm), Diam. 7 1/8 in. (18.1 cm)
Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891 (91.1.1402)

This wide circular Roman bowl is from between 1st C BC and 1st C AD and was cast using the three primary colours and a fourth section of translucent glass. This bowl is a rare example of one using large sections of coloured glass with melted on decoration. These decorations are four hanging bunches of millefiori glass which have been melted onto each of the four coloured sections. The colours are contrasting and in the quarters give a symmetry to the bowl. After this period the glass making technique evolved into glassblowing rather than casting.


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