Roman Glass Amphoriskos

1st century A.D.




H: 12.0 cm (4.7 in)





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This elegant miniature amphora, a vessel for a perfumed oil, was made in a specific technique. Blown from a very attractive cobalt blue glass, it incorporates the irregular “splashes” of the opaque white glass of different density; further blowing would spread and elongate the pattern to obtain a strong decorative effect. The design was probably intended to imitate the exotic texture and color composition of some natural stones. The handles of the vase were shaped separately prior to being applied onto the body and the neck. A slightly asymmetrical body with concave bottom reminds of the hand-made tooling.

Most splashed glass vases or fragments come from the western or central regions of the Empire, especially from sites located in the Alpine region (Northern Italy, Ticino, Vindonissa). Other workshops probably existed in the Aegean and Black Sea regions, and perhaps in Syria-Palestine.


Complete; deposits in places; minor pitting of splashed decoration on exterior.


The Gilbert collection, Cambridge, Massachusetts, acquired in Geneva, 7 June 2001.


The Gilbert Collection, By Phoenix Ancient Art, Geneva, New York, 2019, pp. 109, 255, no. 204.


AUTH S. H., Ancient Glass at the Newark Museum from the Eugene Schaefer Collection of Antiquities, Newark, 1976, p. 60, no. 55.
Glass from the Ancient World: The Ray Winfield Smith Collection, Corning, New York, 1957, pp. 48, 92-93, no. 158.
HARDEN D.B., ed., Glass of the Caesars, Corning, London, Cologne, 1987, p. 112, no. 45.
KUNINA N., Ancient Glass in the Hermitage Collection, St Petersburg, 1997, pp. 107, 109, 149-152, 155.
MATHESON S. B., Ancient Glass in the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 1980, pp. 39-40, nos. 109-110.
Von BOTHMER D., Ancient Art from New York private Collections: Catalogue of an Exhibition held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, December 17, 1959 – February 28, 1960, New York, no. 300, p. 78, pl. 100.