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Glass bowl fragment with erotic scenes

Period:
Early Imperial, Augustan
Date:
end of 1st century B.C.–beginning of 1st century A.D.
Culture:
Roman
Medium:
Glass; cast in a two-part mold
Dimensions:
Overall: 2 3/16 x 1 1/4in. (5.6 x 3.2cm)
Classification:
Glass
Credit Line:
Gift of Nicolas Koutoulakis, 1995
Accession Number:
1995.86
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 166
Opaque white.
Thick horizontal rim with beveled edge; shallow convex curving side.
Molded decoration in relief: on interior, beading on outer and inner edges of rim, bordering figural decoration, comprising a pair of love makers; to their right, remains of the letter A; within body of bowl, another pair of love makers in higher relief, with part of a couch visible below them, and in the field to left part of a two-line Greek inscription: [...].Σ / [...]EI; on exterior, meander pattern on underside of rim; a single concentric line at top of undercurve of side; a band containing a wavy tendril scroll of leaves and flowers populated with a bird facing left; below band, a thicker concentric line around central medallion on bottom, decorated with the squatting figure of a naked woman facing front but with head turned to left and her right hand resting on a reclining figure; in field to upper left, a small projecting object, identified as one of the feet on which the bowl stood.
Broken and chipped with only a small part of the original edge of the rim surviving; bubbles and black impurities; slight dulling, some pitting, but very little weathering.

This fragment is highly unusual not only in its erotic subject matter but also in having the maker’s signature, which is now only partly preserved in Greek letters to the left of the central pair of lovemakers. Other couples decorate the rim and the center of the exterior of the bowl. Together with a fragment from the same mold in the British Museum, it is the only example of a cast or pressed glass vessel with relief decoration on both sides.
Picón, Carlos A. 1995. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 1994-1995." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 53(2): p. 14.

Clarke, John R. 1998. Looking at Lovemaking: Constructions of Sexuality in Roman Art, 100 B.C.- A.D. 250. pp. 32-5, fig. 6, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 388, pp. 335, 482, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Lightfoot, Christopher S. 2014. Ennion: Master of Roman Glass. no. 42, pp. 140-141, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Lightfoot, Christopher S. and Carlos A. Picón. 2015. "A Fragment of a Mold-Pressed Glass Bowl in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Journal of Glass Studies, 57: pp. 21-23, 26, 28, figs. 1-2.

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