Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Glass gold-band mosaic alabastron (perfume bottle)

Late Hellenistic
1st century B.C.
Glass and gold leaf; cast, probably around a rod
7 1/8 × 7/8 in. (18.1 × 2.2 cm) Stopper: 1 7/16 × 9/16 in. (3.6 × 1.5 cm) Diam. of rim: 1 3/16 in. (3 cm) Length (length without stopper): 5 7/8 in. (15 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.194.286a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 163
Neck and rim disk: translucent turquoise green. Body: colorless, translucent turquoise green, translucent cobalt blue, opaque white, and gold leaf.
Rim disk and neck: flat, broad, horizontal rim, with rounded edge; cylindrical neck with uneven surface and vertical ribbing; projecting solid flange with downward taper that fits tightly into mouth of body and flat horizontal bottom edge; body: plain vertical rim, slightly beveled and tapering upward; tall, slender body, expanding downwards, then curving in to pointed bottom.
On exterior of body, gold-band mosaic pattern formed from parallel wavy lengths of four canes set vertically: the first in turquoise green; the second in gold leaf sandwiched between two layers of colorless glass; the third in cobalt blue with a thin white stripe; and the fourth again in gold leaf sandwiched between two layers of colorless glass; each cane repeated three times over the body.
Neck and rim disk: intact; a few pinprick bubbles, dulling, patches of whitish iridescent weathering, and encrustation with neck; body: broken and repaired with one small chip in rim and some small holes in cracks; slight dulling and faint whitish weathering.

This cast and carved vessel belongs to a distinctive group of Late Hellenistic containers that comprised a body made of lengths of colored glass and a detachable neck and rim of translucent monochrome glass. The colored bands on the body include ones made of gold leaf sandwiched between layers of colorless glass.
Froehner, Wilhelm. 1903. Collection Julien Gréau. Verrerie antique, émaillerie et poterie appartenant à M. John Pierpont Morgan no. 783, p. 112, pl. 111.2, Paris.

Eisen, Gustavus A. and Fahim Joseph Kouchakji. 1927. Glass: Its Origin, History, Chronology, Technic and Classification to the Sixteenth Century, Vol. 1. pl. 45c, New York: W. E. Rudge.

Smith, Ray Winfield. 1949. "The Significance of Roman Glass." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8(2): p. 49.

Oliver, Andrew Jr. 1967. "Late Hellenistic Glass in the Metropolitan Museum." Journal of Glass Studies, 9: no. 3, pp. 20–22, fig. 12.

Thimme, Jürgen. 1976. Kunst und Kultur der Kykladeninseln im 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr.: Ausstellung unter d. Patronat des International Council of Museums ICOM im Karlsruher Schloss vom 25. Juni-10. Oktober 1976. no. 95, p. 125, Karlsruhe: Müller.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1987. Greece and Rome. no. 95, p. 125, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sorabella, Jean. 2001. "A Roman Sarcophagus and its Patron." Metropolitan Museum Journal, 36: p. 49.

Picón, Carlos A. and Seán Hemingway. 2016. Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World no. 201, p. 259, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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