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Glass cameo cup fragment

Early Imperial, Julio-Claudian
1st half of 1st century A.D.
Glass; blown and cased; carved and ground
Overall: 3 3/4 x 2 1/4 in. (9.5 x 5.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1881
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Translucent purple with opaque white overlay.
    Plain vertical rim with rounded lip; convex-curving side, turned in towards round bottom.
    Decoration in relief on exterior: a symplegma scene of a kneeling naked man with head turned downwards behind a woman, also naked but with an anklet on her right leg; the man's left hand rests on her back and his right arm reaches back for support to a pile of cushions on the end of the low bed or couch, which is covered with linen; he is clean shaven and has short wavy hair; suspended above the lovers is a garland tied at the top with a bow; immediately below the bed is a broad, horizontal ground line, with a second parallel line below around base.
    In two conjoining fragments; pinprick bubbles in body; on body, pitting, dulling and deep weathering, with some iridescence; on decoration, some pitting and creamy brown weathering. Horizontal grinding marks on interior.

    Roman decorative arts include subjects that are of an explicit sexual nature. Scenes of lovemaking appear on everyday objects such as pottery and terracotta lamps, but they are also featured on luxury items such as silver and, as here, on cameo glass drinking cups.

  • Provenance

    Until 1836, collection of Edmé-Antoine Durand, Paris; 1836, purchased by the 10th Duke of Hamilton at the Durand sale, Paris; before 1866, purchased by de Nolivos; until 1866, collection of de Nolivos, Paris; 1866, sold at the Hôtel Drouot, Paris (de Nolivos sale); shortly before 1879, acquired by Jules Charvet; until 1881, collection of Jules Charvet, Le Pecq, Île-de-France; 1881, purchased from J. Charvet by Henry G. Marquand; acquired in 1881, gift of Henry G. Marquand.

  • References

    Froehner, Wilhelm. 1879. La verrerie antique: déscription de la Collection Charvet. Le Pecq: Jules Charvet, pp. 85-86 n. 1, 139, pl. 33.126.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1881. Twelfth Annual Report of the Trustees of the Association for eight months ending December 31, 1881. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 215-16.

    Clarke, John R. 1998. Looking at Lovemaking: Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art, 100 B.C.- A.D. 250. Berkeley: University of California Press, n. 83, pp. 230, 318.

    Clarke, John R. 2003. Roman sex, 100 B.C.to 250 A.D.. New York: H.N. Abrams, p. 130, fig. 90-1.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History