These silver cups represent Roman metalwork of the highest quality. They were undoubtedly produced by one of the leading Roman workshops that supplied the imperial family as well as affluent and cultured private individuals—the same clientele for whom the villas around Rome and Naples were built, decorated, and furnished.
The cups are decorated in high relief with figures of cupids and are partially gilt. The cupids, several of whom are shown dancing and playing instruments, may be associated with Dionysiac festivities and so are eminently suitable as subjects on vessels meant for a drinking party. But here the figures have little, if any, real symbolism and were chosen simply because they formed an attractive group. Like many other pieces of ornate silverware, these cups were clearly intended as much for display as for use.
#1071. Pair of silver scyphi (cups) with relief decoration
From 1959 to 1970s, collection of Ian Thomas Roper, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, UK; [from 1970s to 1994, with Phoenix Ancient Art, New York and Geneva]; acquired in 1994, purchased from Phoenix Ancient Art.
Picón, Carlos A. 1995. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1994-1995." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 53(2): pp. 16-7.
Milleker, Elizabeth J. 2000. The Year One: Art of the Ancient World East and West nos. 39-41, pp. 57-8, 206, New York and New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 387, pp. 334, 482, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. p. 79, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.