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Author Topic: Ancient glass with gold leaf  (Read 4724 times)

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Offline Paul C2

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Ancient glass with gold leaf
« on: April 07, 2016, 01:24:13 pm »
Hi everyone.

This item has been in my possession for about five years. It's blue glass with gold leaf decoration, as you can see. It has been broken into fragments, and badly repaired.

In fact, it looks quite peculiar. The glass is covered in what appear to be air bubbles, all of which 'streak' horizontally or vertically, which again, I've not seen before. None the less, it seems to be a fairly unique piece.

Can anybody give me any opinions about authenticity or  age? It seems funny that it has no iridescence, but I know virtually nothing about ancient glass (even though a fragment of Roman glass is the only ancient thing I have ever actually found in the ground!).

Any opinions would be much appreciated. Thanks!


Offline Joe Sermarini

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Re: Ancient glass with gold leaf
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2016, 10:31:40 am »
I think medieval or modern.
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Offline Paul C2

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Re: Ancient glass with gold leaf
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2016, 11:38:49 am »
Thanks Joe - that's a worry, I spent quite a lot on that (too much!). But I bought it from a reputable dealer so hopefully I can prove authenticity either way. I'll make some more enquiries - thanks again.

Offline Joe Sermarini

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Re: Ancient glass with gold leaf
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2016, 04:18:50 pm »
What did the dealer say it is?
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Offline Paul C2

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Re: Ancient glass with gold leaf
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2016, 06:42:29 pm »
I'm trying to dig the paperwork out at the moment, but as I recall (this was five years ago) they said it was Greek. But I wouldn't have bought it had they said it was anything other than Roman or Greek.

Offline Joe Sermarini

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Re: Ancient glass with gold leaf
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2016, 08:27:11 pm »
Some antiquity dealers will tag most any ancient glass as Roman, 1st to 3rd/4th century.  More often than not this is correct because that was when the most mass manufacturing occurred. But many items were made after the 3rd century A.D.

The earliest glass was Egyptian and Phoenician. Greece was not an early glass making center.  This glass is usually described as Egyptian or Hellenistic, almost never as "Greek."

The earliest blown glass, and your piece is blown glass, dates from sometime in the second half of first century B.C. Because this was the Roman era, even if it was made in Egypt or the Levante or Greece, it would be typically be called Roman, not Greek. In the early empire most glass was still made in Egypt, the Levante, or Italy. Later glass was also made in Gaul, but still I don't know of any glass coming from Greece in the late empire. Complete Roman gold ornamented glass vessels are extremely rare.

This is more a guess than a researched opinion, but I believe it is Islamic and probably 7th - 13th century.  The shape and the ornamentation both seem Islamic to me. Gold leaf is much more common on Islamic glass than Roman.  But again, this is more a guess.  For me, it might take a lot of research to reach a firmer opinion.
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Offline Paul C2

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Re: Ancient glass with gold leaf
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2016, 12:16:25 am »
Thanks Joe, I really appreciate your reply. I will have to try and find some evidence one way or the other. If it's medieval Islamic, that would be fine - although I think I would have overpaid for it.

Offline otlichnik

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Re: Ancient glass with gold leaf
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2016, 12:08:15 pm »
I am with Joe.  Shape and decoration indicate Islamic, and are paralleled on Islamic metalwork.   I would narrow it down to 10-13th century and try to research Egyptian, then maybe Syrian, glass work.

Shawn
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Offline Paul C2

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Re: Ancient glass with gold leaf
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2016, 06:00:40 pm »
Thanks Shawn, I will do some research. Unfortunately I think this purchase might have been in one of this dealer's auctions, rather than a standard purchase, so I may have no recourse anyway. But it's still a fairly interesting and appealing piece, even if I have paid a ridiculous amount for it.

Offline otlichnik

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Re: Ancient glass with gold leaf
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2016, 09:21:15 am »
I saw a very similar one, though with islamic lettering in gold, yesterday in the Brussels Art & History Museum.  It was labelled Egyptian 12-13th century.

Shawn
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(Shawn Caza, Ottawa)

Offline Paul C2

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Re: Ancient glass with gold leaf
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2016, 03:37:06 pm »
Thanks very much Shawn, that was just what I needed to go on. I've now found several very similar examples:

http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/448385
Identical shape, except for the flat base.

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O829/beaker-unknown/
Very similar shape but with flat base.

These are both described as 13th-14th century, Egypt/Syria.

However, I've not found any with a rounded foot like my example, or with similar crude gilding. In fact, the closest I've found in terms of decoration is this pitcher, which is described as 19th century!
https://www.atena.us/product/19th-century-pitcher-in-islamic-glass-from-damascus/

 

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