Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st century CE. An exquisite Roman "splashed" glass aryballos, jewel-tone red/aubergine in color, the exterior with blobbed splashes of opaque white, yellow, green, and blue, the vessel free-blown. The overall form is comprised of a near-spherical body with a cylindrical neck, a collared rim, and applied trailed twin handles, all upon a flattened base. An exemplary splashed glass vessel created by this special ancient technique - simply stunning and quite rare as this type of decoration vanished by the end of the century! To learn more about the "splash" technique, see the Christie's Lot Essay about a comparable example as well as an excerpt from R.A. Grossman's "Ancient Glass: A Guide to the Yale Collection" in the extended description below. Size: 3.5" H (8.9 cm)
The Romans, forever innovating, underwent a period of experimentation shortly after inventing the glassblowing technique. It did not take much time for Roman artisans to discover how to manipulate glass during the blowing process and invent several amazing effects such as color band and splash techniques. According to scholar Richard A Grossman's "Ancient Glass A Guide to the Yale Collection," "By either sprinkling small fragments of multicolored glass on the surface of the gob or by marvering them in, the glassblower could create a bold and colorful style of decoration. When the vessel was blown to its full size, the drops of embedded glass stretched and embellished the exterior surface with vibrant splashes of color." (Source: R.A. Grossman, Ancient Glass A Guide to the Yale Collection - Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, 2002, p. 12)
A similar Roman splashed glass aryballos sold at Christie's London for GBP 40,000 ($49,015) - Sale 13850 - 6 July 2016 - Lot 215.
Another similar example sold at Christie's New York for $28,680 - Sale 1384 - 8 June 2004, lot 15. According to the Lot Essay for this piece, "The "splash" technique was achieved by attaching colored chips, then reheating and marvering the surface. The vessel was then further inflated. For a discussion of the technique see p. 207 in Whitehouse, Roman Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass. For another 'splashed' aryballos see no. 235 in 3000 Jahre Glaskunst."
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Martin Wunsch Collection, New York, NY, USA, acquired in the 1980s
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Intact, with minimal surface wear, as shown.