Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Glass bowl fragment with gold leaf and painted decoration

Late Imperial
3rd–4th century A.D.
Glass, gold, paint; blown, gold foil applied to upper surface and decorated with stylus, painted, and a second thin layer of glass pressed onto upper surface.
1 3/4 × 2 1/4 in. (4.4 × 5.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 169
Colorless with greenish tinge; gold foil and pale blue paint or enamel.
Fragment from bottom of a vessel, flat on underside, slightly convex on upper surface, rising slightly towards edge.
Roundel framed by a circle containing part of a marine scene with sea represented by blue horizontal lines; at bottom, a bearded male figure reclines, facing left, semi-nude with drapery across his right leg and a cloak arched over his head, his right arm extended before him and his left resting on a down-turned jar from which water pours; above, four raised forelegs and hooves, part of chest, and two standing legs of horses.
Broken on all sides; few bubbles; slight dulling and faint weathering.

Many examples of gold glass have been found in Rome, where they were eventually used to decorate the catacombs. They often have Christian scenes. This fragment from the base of a bowl, however, depicts the figure of the Roman deity Oceanus reclining in the sea, which is indicated by wavy lines in pale blue pigment. He holds a jar from which water pours, and above him are the legs of horses that probably pull a chariot over the waves.
1903. Collection Julien Gréau. Verrerie antique, émaillerie et poterie appartenant à M. John Pierpont Morgan. no. 1611, p. 218.

Harper, Prudence. 1971. "Origin and Influence–Cultural Contacts: Egypt, the Ancient Near East, and the Classical World." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 29(7): p. 326.

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