Metal, ivory and glass objects

Anforisco with cupids gathering grapes
vaso-dei-persiani-(C.d.,-Pittore-di-Dario)

Anforisco with cupids gathering grapes

The cameo glass vase, worked with the techniques of blowing, intaglio and grinding, dates back to the Roman Imperial period and specifically to the first century AD (1 – 79 AD). It was found in 1834 in Pompeii, in the monumental tomb outside the Villa with the Mosaic Columns outside Herculaneum Gate.
The vase has the shape of a wine amphora, on the body of which a scene of grape harvest is portrayed.

On one side, a cupid is pouring rich grapes into a vat, where another cupid is intent on the wine-pressing. The scene is framed by two low wide columns, on which two cupids are sitting while they accompany the grape harvest playing the syringe and the double flute. On the opposite side stands a kline (bed), where are lying two cupids, one of which is playing the lyre, while on the other two columns a cupid picks grapes, and the other is holding a bunch in the hand and a basket already full on the head.
Below a thin horizontal line, which carves out a sort of exergue, is represented a series of animals feeding on grass and shrubs.

Lare

Statuette of the Lar

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Statuette of the Lar

The two statuettes of Lares were found in the House of the Golden Cupids (VI, 15, 7) in Pompeii and date back to the second half of the first century AD (62 – 79 AD).
The bronze statuette, which is worked with the technique of melting and portrays the Lar (protector spirit of the dead ancestors that, according to the Roman tradition, watched over the good state of the family and properties), is part of a couple.

The Lar is portrayed in the usual aspect of a young boy wearing long hair combed with big locks; he is moving his left leg forward in the act of dancing, He wears a short tunic richly draped, a cape wrapped and tied around his lips and high boots. Placed on a quadrangular base decorated on the upper edge with ova and on the lower edge with heart-shaped leaves, he is lifting with his right hand a panther-shaped rython, while with the other is carrying a situla with handles.

Phiale decorato con Busto di donna con corona turrita

Phiale decorated with the bust of a woman wearing a towered crown

Phiale decorated with the bust of a woman wearing a towered crown

The wrought silver cup, which is part of the silver treasure found in the House of Menander in Pompeii in 1930, is worked with the techniques of embossing and gilding and dates back to the first century AD (1 – 79 AD).

The cup is characterized by a large hemispherical basin based on a low foot; in the middle of the basin, is the gilded bust of a woman worked in high relief and inserted in a moulded circle.
The woman, probably the personification of a town, presents a thin face framed by hair parted in the middle and combed with smooth locks; she is wearing a chiton and a cloak and, on her head, a towered crown with town doors. Silver cups with golden emblems attested by literary sources were also found at Boscoreale and were probably destined to be only exhibited.

Lucerna con danzatore

Lucerna with a dancing figure

Lucerna with a dancing figure

The bronze lucerna, worked with the technique of melting, was found in Pompeii and it can be dated back to around the second half of the first century AD (41 – 79 AD).

The lamp is of a common type widespread in many parts of the Roman Empire beginning from the Claudian period to the late second century AD. The lamp is trilicne (with three nozzles) and presents a cylindrical fuel-chamber, a horizontal shoulder and a short raised rim, a large infundibulum with a lid consisting of a flat surface with raised edges and a central raised disc, where is standing out a male figurine wearing a short loincloth and a pileus (a Phrygian pointed cap).

The three nozzles are connected with the fuel-chamber by means of engraved spiral scroll-like joints. The surmounting handle consists of a pelta (shield), provided with a double piping, with a heart-shaped leaf at the ends, in the middle of the upper part is a narrow and long trilobate palmette on an acanthus bush, in the middle of the lower part is another palmette with five lobes on an acanthus scroll-like bush.

Iniziazione di Arianna

Panel decorated with the initiation of Ariadne

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Panel decorated with the initiation of Ariadne

The cameo glass object, worked with the techniques of blowing, intaglio and grinding, dates back to the Tiberio-Claudian period (15 – 54 AD).

The panel, found in the autumn of 1960 among waste materials outside the House of M. Fabius Rufus in the Insula Occidentalis in Pompeii, was probably an element of decoration of a wall, or most likely, of a wooden piece of furniture instead of the most common ivory marquetries. The depicted theme is that of the apparition of Dionysus to Ariadne asleep.

Cameo glass panels like that are extremely rare, if not unique, probably produced by the same workshops capable of creating masterpieces such as the famous “Blue Vase” of the National Archeological Museum of Naples or the so-called “Portland Vase” of the British Museum. They were produced by welding two sheets obtained pouring molten glass into matrices, after they had been overlapped and introduced into a kiln. After this process, the upper sheet was engraved.

Coppa con decorazione fitomorfa

Cup with phytomorphic decoration

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Cup with phytomorphic decoration

The object was found in a tomb of the necropolis of Capua and dates back to the Augustan Age (27 BC – 14 AD).

The rock crystal cup, worked with the techniques of intaglio and engraving, presents a thickened rim, a deep basin, vertical handles connected to the rim with a horizontal flat joint and a distinct base. It is especially characterized by the decoration with plant motifs, consisting of little branches with lanceolate leaves where midribs are engraved. The shape of the cup or skyphos reminds silver specimens, while the decoration, that evokes the consumption of wine, for which the object was evidently made, is also recognizable on similar clay or bronze objects. The uniqueness of the cup consists not only in the decoration of the walls, which required a great skill from the glassmaker, but also in the size absolutely extraordinary and the rarity of the quartz, of which it is made, of Egyptian or Indian origin.

Skyphos decorato con Venere e Marte

Skyphos decorated with Venus and Mars
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Skyphos decorated with Venus and Mars

The wrought silver vase, worked with the techniques of embossing and gilding, could be dated to the Augustan Age (27 BC – 14 AD) or to the mid-first century AD (40 – 60 AD).
The object is part of the silver treasure found in the House of Menander in Pompeii in 1930.
The cup is characterized by an ovoid body, a foot in the shape of a suction cap, a high stem and vertical ring handles surmounted by horizontal tongues. It is decorated in relief and it is part of a couple with the same subject.

On the main side Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, is portrayed naked, wearing a big armilla (armlet) around her arm, sitting on a kline (bed) and turning her back on Mars, the god of war. On a corner is sitting Eros, the god of love, holding a big cup in his arms. On the secondary side, is depicted Venus wrapping herself in a cloak and turning to Mars and Eros.

Skyphos decorato con Arianna abbandonata

Skyphos decorated with Ariadne abandoned
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Skyphos decorated with Ariadne abandoned

The wrought silver cup, which is part of the silver treasure found in the House of Menander in Pompeii in 1930, is worked with the technique of embossing and dates back to the second half of the first century AD or to the early of the same century.
The cup is characterized by a low hemispherical basin, vertical ring handles surmounted by horizontal tongues, a distinct rim and foot and a decoration in relief.

The cup, along with another exactly alike, is part of a couple decorated with representations related to the cult and the myth of Bacchus. In the central part of the main side is portrayed the scene of the abandonment of Ariadne, the future bride of Bacchus, by Theseus. Ariadne is sitting, wrapped in a cloak, between two standing figures and a little cupid, holding a rabbit in her arms. On the background around the scene there are masks and other Dionysian symbols. The scene on the secondary side is incomplete: there are only masks, Dionysian symbols and part of the figure of Mercury.

Skyphos decorato con la morte di Semèle

Skyphos decorated with the death of Semèle

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Skyphos decorated with the death of Semèle

The wrought silver cup, worked with the technique of embossing, could be dated back to the second half of the first century AD or to the early of the same century.

The object is part of the silver treasure found in the House of Menander in Pompeii in 1930.
The cup is characterized by a low hemispherical basin, vertical ring handles surmounted by horizontal tongues, a distinct rim and foot and a decoration in relief. The cup, along with another exactly alike, is part of a couple decorated with representations related to the cult and the myth of Bacchus.

In the middle of the main side is depicted the death of Semèle, mother of Bacchus: the goddess in labour is assisted by an adult woman on the right and by a young woman on the left, whilst the genius with a torch turned downwards, the symbol of death, appears laterally. On the background of the scene there are the masks of Satyr and Maenad, Pan and Cupids. On the secondary side, between masks and an altar with fruit and pottery, there is the scene of the birth of Dionysus among female figures and a Silenus.

Skyphos decorato con le imprese di Ercole

Skyphos decorated with the labours of Hercules

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Skyphos decorated with the labours of Hercules

The wrought silver cup, worked with the techniques of embossing and gilding, was variously attributed by the scholars, according to stylistic and morphological criteria, to the late Hellenistic Age (the second or the first century BC), or to the Augustan Age (27 BC – 14 AD), or to the Nero-Claudian period (41 – 68 AD).
The object is part of the silver treasure found in the House of Menander in Pompeii in 1930.

The cup, characterized by a deep basin on foot and by ring handles joined to the rim with tongues, was created with the technique of double layers, that is the overlapping of a smooth inner layer with an outer embossed layer. Together with a similar cup, it constitutes a set of the same treasure, both from the formal point of view and from that of creation. In fact, the argentum potorium (a silver drinking set) usually consists of a couple of cups, reciprocally connected by the subject chosen for the decoration that, in this case, is Hercules.

Pettine con decorazione fitomorfa e zoomorfa

Comb with phytomorphic and zoomorphic decoration
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Comb with phytomorphic and zoomorphic decoration

The ivory object, worked with the techniques of intaglio, engraving and overpainting, was found in Pompeii. It dates back to the second half of the first century AD (50 -79 AD).

The small bone comb is rectangular with curvilinear short sides; it has two rows of teeth. The central band is decorated with engravings: in the middle of the composition there is a basket full of fruit, from which a bunch of graves is hanging; the two ends were probably specular, but the left side is unfortunately incomplete, on the right side, instead, it is still possible to admire an elegant standing peacock, behind which stands a leafy bush.

On the decorated surface remain numerous traces of colour, especially red in its different gradations: the light shades have been used for flowers and fruit; the wicker, with which the basket is woven, is of a darker shade, tending to brown, the bunch of graves is, instead, violet.

Cassetta portagioielli con sirene, cariatidi, eroti

Jewel box with mermaids, caryatids and cupids

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Jewel box with mermaids, caryatids and cupids

The ivory object, worked with the technique of engraving, comes from Cuma (Pozzuoli, Naples) and dates back to the Hellenistic-Roman period (third century – fifth century AD).

The rectangular jewel box is supported by four small feet in the shape of mermaids. The decoration of the front side and one of the short sides consists of small plaquettes depicting standing figures of draped caryatids; the figures on the edge have their arms held along their sides. On the other short side of the box, there are plaquettes portraying winged cupids with their arms folded behind their backs. The plaquettes, as well as the small moulded cylindrical pillars and the small frames which run along the edges and the lid, are made of ivory, while the box itself (today reconstructed) would have been entirely made of wood. A series of precious objects were found inside the jewel box including a bronze mirror, a gold ring, two silver fabulae covered with gold filigree leaves, a small pyx, a needle, a small spatula and a bone comb, a spindle and a large pin.

Siringa con scena teatrale

Syringe with a theatrical scene

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Syringe with a theatrical scene

The bronze musical instrument, worked with the technique of melting, was found in Pompeii in 1876 and it can be dated back to around the first century AD (1 -79 AD).

The musical instrument has a high case decorated with three niches, that are supposed to represent a frons scaenae (a theatrical scene), and in the upper part, nine pipes of different height: they are connected in the lower part and have a hole near the mouthpiece. The object, strongly restored in the 19th century, is of so large size that it probably worked by means of a special machine.

The use of the syringe was connected to satiric drama and myth, but musical instruments were generally used even in ritual ceremonies, for example in Isiac processions, during which the believers shook the sistrum, or during plays or to cheer up banquets, even if music seems not to be considered a discipline independent from drama in ancient times.

Situla con decorazione fitomorfa e zoomorfa

Situla with phytomorphic and zoomorphic decoration
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Situla with phytomorphic and zoomorphic decoration

The situla (a bucket with handles), made of bronze and silver and worked with the techniques of melting and agemina (damascening), was found in Pompeii. It dates back to the first half of the first century AD (1-49 AD).

The object has a large body with straight walls flaring towards the mouth and two thin mobile curved handles. The joints to the rim are marked by four discs decorated with a rosette rising from vegetal elements, which flank on each side silver-damascened appliques with female heads wearing a tenia on the hair.

The bottom is internally convex and moulded, externally thickened with a pattern of plaits. The situla is based on three elegant feet in the shape of winged griffins with lion-like paws leaning on circular silver bases moulded and decorated with a pattern of plaits.
A stamp reminds Cornelia Chelidone, probably the owner of the object.
The situla reproduces prototypes of the fifth century BC of Capuan manufacture, while the type of decoration is inspired by Greek iconographies widespread in the Italic area by precious cloths and toreutic products.

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