Museum Home Past Exhibitions Reflecting Antiquity: Modern Glass Inspired by Ancient Rome

October 18, 2007–January 14, 2008 at the Getty Villa

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Vase with a Floral Pattern / Carder
Mosaic Bowl / Italian
audio Audio: Scientist Marc Walton describes his analysis of this modern bowl.

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, archaeological excavations across the Italian peninsula at sites such as Pompeii and Herculaneum resulted in the rediscovery of Roman glass. Artisans in Europe were exposed to ancient glass vessels that were made using a variety of methods unknown to them. They set out to imitate ancient techniques and designs, basing their replicas either on the artifacts themselves or on illustrated publications of glass collections. Amid a growing demand for products influenced by past periods, many glass artists looked to ancient Rome for inspiration.

Reflecting Antiquity is the first major exhibition to examine the impact of the rediscovery of Roman glass on modern glassmakers. It features Roman vessels as well as modern glassmakers' reproductions of these ancient pieces, and vessels inspired by ancient ones.

The exhibition explores several forms and techniques of Roman glassmaking, including mosaic glass, gold glass, cameo glass, and cage cups, and examines how nineteenth-century glassmakers, particularly in Italy, Germany, and England, studied Roman glass both to create exact replicas of ancient models and to craft unique vessels that ultimately bore little resemblance to the glass of ancient Rome. The exhibition also presents the work of contemporary glassmakers who continue to study Roman glass in order to understand and reproduce ancient glassmaking techniques. It is a testament to the beauty of Roman glass vessels, and the skill of the artisans who created them, that these ancient pieces continue to impress and inspire us today.

This exhibition will be on view at The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, February 15–May 27, 2008.

This exhibition is organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and The Corning Museum of Glass. Generous support is provided by the Villa Council.