Roman, Imperial Period, ca. late 2nd to 3rd century CE. A beautiful mold-formed flask comprised of semi-translucent, amethyst-hued glass with a tooled concave base, a bulbous body with a smooth shoulder, a cylindrical neck with a flared rim, and a pair of applied trail handles joining shoulder to neck. The body displays ten rows of raised grape-shaped bulbs which terminate alongside the lower handle terminals and imbue the exterior with an attractive textured surface. The upper handle terminals arch slightly upwards, and the excess trailing is gently laid atop the handle curves. Brilliant areas of silvery and rainbow-hued iridescence nicely complement the wine-hued color of the glass. Typical grape flasks boast collared shoulders, squat necks, and no handles, so this embellished example is one of importance and extreme rarity! Size: 2.625" W x 5.5" H (6.7 cm x 14 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.
Published in Cohen, Gilles. "Le Vin. Catalogue d'exposition de la galerie La Reine Margot. Envoi de Gilles Cohen." Galerie La Reine Margot, Paris, 2006, pp. 88-89.
For a stylistically-similar example of a different color and without handles, please see The Corning Museum of Art, accession number 64.1.8: https://www.cmog.org/artwork/bottle-shaped-bunch-grapes
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-La Reine Margot, a third generation antiquities dealer in Paris, France
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