The J. Paul Getty Museum

Glass gem with gold foil ornament

Object Details

Title:

Glass gem with gold foil ornament

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Greek (South Italian)

Place:

South Italy (?) (Place Created)

Date:

4th century B.C.

Medium:

Glass and terracotta with gold inlay

Object Number:

88.AN.106

Dimensions:

2.4 × 1.9 × 0.8 cm (15/16 × 3/4 × 5/16 in.)

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Object Description

One one side of this double‑sided glass gem, a figure drives a four horsed chariot; on the other swims a hippocamp, a part‑horse and part‑fish sea monster. The gem is constructed from two oval pieces of clear glass, with convex outer surfaces and flat inner surfaces. The artisan engraved the decoration on the flat surfaces and then inlaid the intaglio with gold foil. A thin ceramic plaque was then sandwiched between the two glass pieces, creating a reddish background for the gold motifs. Other similarly formed glass gems using different central materials have survived from the 300s B.C. 

The central ceramic plaque was pierced, indicating that the gem was mounted as a swiveling bezel in a ring or worn as a pendant.

Provenance
Provenance
by 1987 - 1988

Fritz Bürki (Zurich, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988.

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