Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Glass 'Mercury' bottle

Late Imperial
3rd century A.D.
Glass; mold-blown
H. 7 3/4 in. (19.7 cm.) width 1 11/16 in. (4.3 cm.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1881
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 169
Colorless with pale yellow green tinge.
Broad rim, folded out, down, round and in, and flattened on top surface; thick-walled cylindrical neck, expanding downwards; pushed-in horizontal shoulder with raised rounded corners; square, thick-walled body, with flat sides; concave bottom.
In relief on bottom, standing peacock, facing right, with crest above head and tail feathers displayed behind in a stylized fashion with two circular rows of dots.
Intact; dulling, pitting, and brilliant iridescence covering almost all of surfaces.

Bottles of this type are often called Mercury flasks because the figure of Mercury, the Roman god of commerce and trade, appears in molded relief on the bottom of some examples. On the bottom of this bottle is a peacock with outstretched tail feathers. These sturdy and very portable containers are found mainly in Italy and the western provinces; they are virtually unknown from the eastern half of the Empire.
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.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1911. "The Room of Ancient Glass." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6(6) Supplement: pp. 16, 18, fig. 21.

Lightfoot, Christopher S. 2006. "Roman Mould-Blown Stamped Bottles in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Corpus des signatures et marques sur verres antiques, Vol. 2, Danièle Foy and Marie-Dominique Nenna, eds. p. 454, pl. 9, Aix-en-Provence: Association française pour l'archéologie du verre.

Lightfoot, Christopher S. 2006. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2005-2006." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 64(2):

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