Gold-band mosaic glass scyphus (drinking cup)

Early Imperial
late 1st century B.C.–early 1st century A.D.
Glass; cast and cut
H.: 4 1/2 in. (11.5 cm), W: 9 13/16 (25 cm), Diam.: 7 1/16 in. (18 cm)
Credit Line:
Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Translucent cobalt blue, deep honey brown, turquoise green, opaque white, and colorless enclosing gold leaf.
    Vertical rim, with slightly rounded top edge; convex curving side tapering downward; applied splayed base ring with flat bottom edge; slightly convext bottom; two loop handles, applied in carved back rectangular pads on upper side and below rim, with flat thumb-rests above loops with wings above and below.
    Gold-band mosaic pattern formed from polygonal sections of serpentine layered canes formed in combinations of blue with white central line, brown with white central line, colorless with gold leaf, and green; the length is wound three times round body, being fused together across bottom; a blue network cane wound spirally with a white thread is attached as a rim.
    Reassembled from over 250 fragments, with many remaining holes; pitting, weathering, and patches of iridescence.

    Most late Hellenistic glass drinking cups are made of colorless or monochrome translucent glass. This example is highly unusual in that it is made from fused canes of polychrome mosaic glass, which include bands of gold leaf between two layers of colorless glass. The cup, despite its fragmentary condition, is probably the largest surviving example of an ancient vessel made using gold-band glass. It may have been made for the luxury market in Rome.

  • References

    Oliver, Andrew Jr. 1967. "Late Hellenistic Glass in the Metropolitan Museum." Journal of Glass Studies, 9: pp. 27-28, figs. 21-22.

    Barovier, Rosa. 1974. "Roman Glassware in the Museum of Murano and the Murano Revival of the Nineteenth Century." Journal of Glass Studies, : p. 116 n. 26.

    Page, Jutta-Annette, Lisa Pilosi, and Mark T. Wypyski. 2001. "Ancient Mosaic Glass or Modern Reproductions?." Journal of Glass Studies, 43: pp. 129-30, fig. 15.

    Whitehouse, David. 2007. Reflecting Antiquity: Modern Glass Inspired by Ancient Rome. Corning,: Corning Museum of Glass, no. 58, p. 158.

    Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 389, pp. 335, 482-83.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History