Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Glass cup in the form of the head of an African

Early Imperial, Flavian
2nd half of 1st century A.D.
Glass; blown in a three-part mold
H. 4 1/8in. (10.5cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1881
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 166
Translucent blue green.
Lopsided, everted, thick, knocked-off rim; narrow, cylindrical neck; body modeled in the shape of a head in the round; base ring with rounded lower edge; flat bottom. Two mold seams run from rim down sides of head to base ring, with a separate disk-shaped base section.
On body, a head with African features and hair, wearing an ivy wreath and globular pendant earrings; one half of mold comprises the back of the head and part of the proper left ear, with the hair arranged in six horizontal rows of short vertical locks in relief, and wreath tied in a knot at back with hanging finials; the other half of mold shows the African's face and all of his proper right ear, with a regular, curving fringe to his hair, high arched eyebrows, large almond-shaped eyes, raised cheeks, broad flat nose, large open mouth with upper teeth showing and thick lips, and a small but prominent chin; on bottom, a single raised circle around a central raised dot.
Intact; a few pinprick and larger bubbles; slight dulling and faint iridescence, with small patches of weathering.

Other examples of flasks shaped like a single male head with strong Negroid features are signed—one group in Latin, the other in Greek.
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.
Froehner, Wilhelm. 1879. La verrerie antique: déscription de la Collection Charvet. p. 5, 57, 61, Le Pecq: Jules Charvet.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1881. Twelfth Annual Report of the Trustees of the Association for eight months ending December 31, 1881. pp. 215-6, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kisa, Anton. 1908. Das Glas im Altertume, Vol. 3. p. 756, fig. 301, Leipzig: K. W. Hiersemann.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1911. "The Room of Ancient Glass." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6(6) Supplement: pp. 13-4, fig. 11B.

Eisen, Gustavus A. and Fahim Joseph Kouchakji. 1927. Glass: Its Origin, History, Chronology, Technic and Classification to the Sixteenth Century, Vol. 1. pl. 78 h, New York: W. E. Rudge.

Snowden, Frank M., Jr. 1970. Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience. p. 28, fig. 59, Cambridge: Belknap Press.

Stern, E. Marianne. 1995. Roman Mold-Blown Glass: The First through Sixth Centuries. p. 205, n. 29e, Rome: L'Erma di Bretschneider.

Related Objects

Glass gladiator cup

Date: ca. A.D. 50–80 Medium: Glass Accession: 81.10.245 On view in:Gallery 168

Glass cup with splayed foot

Date: 2nd half of 1st century A.D. Medium: Glass Accession: X.21.194 On view in:Gallery 168

Glass cup

Date: 1st–early 2nd century A.D. Medium: Glass Accession: 17.194.92 On view in:Gallery 168

Glass cup

Date: mid-1st–2nd century A.D. Medium: Glass Accession: 74.51.5742 On view in:Gallery 171

Glass cup

Date: 3rd century A.D. Medium: Glass Accession: 81.10.85 On view in:Gallery 169