Marbled Glass Patella
Period: Late Hellenistic - Early Roman, 1st century B.C. - 1st century A.D.
Dimensions: H: 3 - D: 7 cm
Ex – European private collection, imported into the US, March 22 1995.
This small cup is a beautiful example of the late Hellenistic – early Roman glass technique called the marbled glass. The dragged pattern consists of the translucent amber layer, layers of dark and light brown, grey, and opaque white imitating the irregular pattern of veined stone such as agate or its derivative onyx.
The production of the marbled glass is a complex and painstaking operation requiring tremendous skill and remarkable experience on the part of the glassmaker. The glassmaker must first produce the polychrome glass rods or canes. The chromatic composition formed along their length determines the color design of the vessel. The cane was wound spirally on a flat surface and pressed at intervals so that an undulating motion complements the spiral decorative motif. This procedure is combined with the technique of pressing the glass into the mold, a process that further distorted the decoration. It was then followed by grinding, tooling, and polishing to obtain a finely finished, uniform surface.
Patella (Latin, small dish) is a specific shape of a cup with double convex profile and a foot ring, it is mostly found among the pottery vessels. If similar glass cups are thought to be their imitation, the rich decorative effect would place them among the most desirable luxury products. The same shape was successfully used in the millefiori glass bowls.
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