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Greek Core-Formed Glass Alabastron

Lot 0016C
Ancient Greece, Classical Period, ca. late 6th to early 5th century BCE. A lovely core-formed glass alabastron, so named because many vessels that assumed this form were made of alabaster. The opaque vessel is comprised of a deep cobalt blue glass with white and yellow trailing combed into a feathered zigzag pattern to adorn the midsection of the body, and circular bands of similar colors ringing the rounded base, tapered neck and shoulders, flared rim, and applied arching handle. Several shallow mold-formed ribs surround the body, giving the vessel a textured feel while further emphasizing the integral yellow and white embellishments. A stunning work of expert glass blowing with gorgeous hues and an elegant presentation. Custom museum-quality display stand included. Size: 1.375" W x 4.25" H (3.5 cm x 10.8 cm); 5.25" H (13.3 cm) on included custom stand.

The alabastron is a long-bodied vessel with a rounded bottom, a cylindrical neck, and a flat disk for a mouth. Though usually without handles, some alabastra do boast small curving handles, like this example. According to the Beazley Archive of the University of Oxford, the alabastron shape's history extends back to Corinth, but was only preserved in Athenian pottery examples back to the mid-sixth century BCE. Alabastra were created in many materials, including alabaster, and the Greek term for this stone - alabastron (most likely of Egyptian origin) - was the source of inspiration for the name of this shaped vessel. Many examples were finished with a white ground, as if to imitate this stone. We know from vase painting imagery of women using alabastra following a bath, that these vessels most likely held perfumed oils.

According to the Corning Museum of Glass, core forming is "the technique of forming a vessel by winding or gathering molten glass around a core supported by a rod. After forming, the object is removed from the rod and annealed. After annealing, the core is removed by scraping." (https://www.cmog.org/glass-dictionary/core-forming). This process of glass making was begun in the late 16th century BCE by glassmakers of Mesopotamia, and then adopted by Egyptian glassmakers in the 15th century BCE. The technique almost came to an end in the so-called Dark Ages of Mediterranean civilization (1200 to 900 BCE); however, by the 9th century BCE a new generation of glassmakers took up the technique once again, and between the 6th and 4th century BCE core-forming spread throughout the Mediterranean.

Provenance: private New York, USA collection

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#134579

Condition

Vessel repaired from multiple pieces with a few areas of restoration, overpainting, and light adhesive residue along break lines. Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, fading to areas of original coloration, and small chips to rim, handle, body, and base. Light earthen deposits throughout.

Starting Bid

$1,000.00

Buyer's Premium

  • 24.5%

Greek Core-Formed Glass Alabastron

Auction ended on Wed, Jun 20, 2018
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Estimate $2,000 - $3,000
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686 S. Taylor Avenue Suite 106
Louisville, CO 80027
United States
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