Beaker

Object Details

Title:

Beaker

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

Roman

Place(s):

Eastern Mediterranean (Place created)

Date:

1st century

Medium:

Glass

Dimensions:

21.2 cm (8 3/8 in.)

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Although this amber-colored beaker looks remarkably contemporary, it was made almost 2000 years ago. The high-relief knobs decorating the body of the glass represent lotus buds--a popular motif in Roman art and a familiar design, even in today's glassware. What makes this work different is that the artist used what was then a new technique--glassblowing.

Prior to the discovery of glassblowing techniques, glassmakers poured or pressed molten glass into molds to create thick vessels. But this vessel is mold-blown glass. The artist gathered a blob of molten glass on the end of a hollow metal tube, which he then blew into to inflate the glass. Glassblowing the object created its unique shape, and made it lighter and thinner than if it had been cast. The mold used to make this beaker had four parts: three side panels and a base section. Mold seams are still visible.

The sharp-edged lip of this beaker indicates it was never used for drinking. More likely, it was a gift to the dead--and buried with a body.

Provenance
by 1974 - 1988

Erwin Oppenländer, 1901 - 1988 (Waiblingen, Germany), by inheritance to his son, Gert Oppenländer, 1988.

1988 - 2003

Gert Oppenländer (Waiblingen, Germany), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003.

Exhibitions
Classical Connections: The Enduring Influence of Greek and Roman Art (December 16, 2003 to November 9, 2008)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 2003 to November 9, 2008
Molten Color: Glassmaking in Antiquity (October 8, 2009 to February 22, 2010)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa, (Malibu), October 8, 2009 to February 22, 2010
Bibliography

Saldern, Axel von, et al. Gläser der Antike. Sammlung Erwin Oppenländer (1974: Hamburg, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe) p.166, no. 455.

Stern, E. Marianne. Roman Mold-blown Glass: The First through Sixth Centuries, exh. cat. (Toledo, OH: The Toledo Museum of Art, with "L'Erma" Di Bretschneider, 1995) p. 106n7d.