Exhibition location: Greek and Roman Special Exhibition Gallery, Gallery 172
Press preview: December 8, 10:00 a.m.–noon
Glassmaking originated around 2500 B.C. in Mesopotamia, and by the mid-first millennium B.C. it had spread throughout the ancient world. The number of artifacts and vessels made from glass remained limited, however, until the introduction of two important technical advances—the use of the blowpipe and closed multipart molds—in the late first century B.C. and the early first century A.D., respectively. These advances revolutionized the glass industry under the Roman Empire, and some vessels—or fragments of vessels—from this period already bear the names of the glassmakers, who “signed” their molds.
Ennion made the most outstanding Roman mold-blown glass in the early first century A.D. and products of his workshop are the focus of the exhibition Ennion: Master of Roman Glass, opening December 9 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This is the first exhibition of ancient glass organized by the Metropolitan, which has one of the finest collections of this material in the world.
The exhibition is made possible by Diane Carol Brandt, The Vlachos Family Fund, and The David Berg Foundation.
Glassware—primarily jugs and cups—signed by Ennion was traded over a vast area that spanned the entire Mediterranean world and has been found in archaeological digs from Israel to Spain. Of the 37 complete or fragmentary vessels in the exhibition, 24 are by Ennion, including the Metropolitan Museum’s three signed pieces. Examples by other named glassmakers of the period—including the only two intact works by Ennion’s closest rival, Aristeas, as well as beakers signed by Jason, Neikais, and Meges—will also be presented. A selection of unsigned blown glass that illustrates Ennion’s profound influence on the nascent Roman glass industry will also be on view, including 12 examples of Roman glass from the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum.
The exhibition features works from museums and private collections in Europe, Israel, and the United States. Lenders to the exhibition are The Corning Museum of Glass; Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv; The British Museum; the Louvre; Museo di Antichità, Turin; Musei Civici, Pavia; Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Adria; Yale University Art Gallery; Newark Museum; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; Shlomo Moussaieff Collection, Israel; Yunwai Lou Collection, New York; and the Strada Collection, Scaldasole.
A catalogue suitable for nonspecialists will accompany the exhibition. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press, the catalogue will be available in the Museum’s book shops.
Education programs will include exhibition tours and a lecture.
The exhibition was organized by Christopher S. Lightfoot, Curator, Department of Greek and Roman Art.
The exhibition will be featured on the Museum’s website at www.metmuseum.org.
After the presentation at the Metropolitan Museum, the exhibition will be shown at The Corning Museum of Glass (May 15–October 19, 2015).
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May 19, 2014