Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 3rd to 4th century CE. A stunning transparent glass plate of a pale-green color, free-blown and of a broad, shallow form on an applied ring foot with a large but smooth pontil scar, and two thin grooves on the interior of the out-folded rim. The shape of the foot, which flares outwards at its base, mirrors the shape of the rim. The interior of the body curves inward slightly, forming a very gentle dip in the center of the plate. Vessels like this one could have been used during any course of a Roman meal, but it would have been ideal for laying out appetizers (the course called "gustum") like cold meat or small fish around the rim. Average Roman citizens used glass vessels like this one for every course of their evening meal, known as "cena." Size: 8.5" W x 1.625" H (21.6 cm x 4.1 cm).
Most scholars agree, Roman glass was of the highest quality - both aesthetically and technically - among the ancients. While glass making had been practiced for centuries, glass blowing was invented in the Roman-controlled Holy Land in the 1st century BCE. This innovative technology revolutionized the artform. We can appreciate such a wide variety of forms and shapes, because the medium of glass has unique physical properties that make for so many more possibilities which would eventually replace a wide variety of pottery and metal wares in the ancient world. Roman glassmakers reached incredible artistic heights with both free-blown vessels and mold blown forms and decorations and were traded far beyond the Roman Empire. Roman glass vessels have been found in Scandinavia, India, and in Han Dynasty tombs in China.
A similar example hammered for $3,750 at Christie's, New York Antiquities auction (sale 2323, June 10, 2010, lot 63): https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-roman-glass-plate-circa-3rd-4th-century-5321765-details.aspx
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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