A Roman iridescent yellowish-green glass cup, signed by Aristeas
Lot 14*
A Roman Mould-Blown Cup Signed by Aristeas
Sold for £160,650 (US$ 272,257) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
A Roman mould-blown cup signed by Aristeas
Mid 1st Century A.D.
Made in yellowish-green glass and blown into a four-part mould comprising three vertical sections and one for the base, the vertical mould-seams continuing right up to the top of the rim, with a squashed spherical body, vertical mouth and cut-off rim, the decoration in fine low relief arranged into three horizontal bands starting 60mm. below the rim: in the first, delicate petal fluting with, in the middle of one mould part, a three-lined inscription in Greek letters, APICTEAC KY C I (Aristeas the Cypriote made [it/me]) arranged within a tabula ansata, a central band comprising an arcaded frieze of palmettes and a lower band of petal fluting, the domed base with a small raised dot in the centre, 2½in. (6.4cm.) high, 25/8in. (6.6cm.) rim diam., 11/8in. (2.8cm.) base diam., iridescence, two rim chips broken and mended

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Ex Constable-Maxwell Collection, London
    Ex British Rail Pension Fund Collection, London

    On Loan:
    The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1980-1985
    The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York, 1985-1995

    Published:
    Sotheby Parke Bernet 1979, pp.157-160, lot 280
    Harden 1979, pp.288-95, fig.4
    Matheson 1980, p.44
    Glass of the Caesars 1987, p.153
    Engle 1988, pp.80-1, figs.48-9
    Price 1991, p.58 & 71
    Stern 1995, p.72, no.71 & 76
    Sotheby’s 1997, pp.48-51, lot 18

    Literature:
    Aristeas appears to have specialised in fine mould-blown tablewares as demonstrated by the only other cup bearing his name in the Strada Collection. This two-handled cup, found at Albonese (Pavia) at the end of the 19th Century, was blown into a three-part, rather than a four-part, mould and has two zones of gadrooning, the upper band also interrupted with a tabula ansata enclosing a two-lined inscription, APICTEAC E OIEI (Aristeas made [it/me]; Calvi 1965).

    This cup belongs to a group of 1st Century mould-blown tablewares that have a name prominently displayed on the vessel. Only four other names written in Greek are known: Ennion, Jason, Meges and Neikaios and these are all accompanied by the word ‘E OIEI' or ‘E OIHCEN'(made [it]). Two names in Latin are also known: C.CAESI BUGADDI occurs on the underside of a Negro-head beaker found in London (Price 1991, pl.17d) and M. Licinius Diceus appears on a gladiators cup from Sopron, Hungary (Glass of the Caesars 1987, p.167, no.88; Whitehouse 2001, pp.62-4, no.534). It is not clear, however, whether these names refer to the owner of the glasshouse, the glassmaker or the mould-maker or whether they were one and the same person. Similar prominent signatures on moulded Arretine or Samian pottery are generally accepted as advertisements naming the factory owner, while cursive signatures and similar stamps are thought to belong to slaves or employees making the moulds and finishing the vessels (cf. Price 1991, p.58).

    In form and decoration this cup is very similar to two glasses signed by Ennion (cf. Matheson 1980, pp.43-5, no.118 for an example in the Yale University Art Gallery), while the fluting or gadrooning can also be found on contemporary silver, as on a small cup from Herculaneum (Stefanelli 1991, p.256, no.24, fig.91 on p.128). The similarities between this glass cup and the Ennion pieces have led to the suggestion that Aristeas was a follower of the latter. For a long time it has been believed that Ennion first worked in the Levant at Sidon, where he produced jugs, amphoriskoi, hexagonal flasks and globular bowls and later migrated to north Italy to make cylindrical cups (Harden 1935, pp.164-5). This sequence is now under question as cups signed by Ennion have also been found in earlier contexts and Sidon is not included in any mould-blown inscription (Price 1991, pp.71-2). Indeed, this cup is the only published piece where a place-name has been incorporated into the inscription. Yet it remains uncertain as to whether this is an indication that Aristeas was working out of Cyprus or whether he was adding it to establish his credentials or to differentiate himself from another artist with the same name (Stern 1995, p.72). It must also be remembered that if multiple moulds were formed from an archetype mould then simultaneous production of a form could have occurred at several glass-making centres, and individual glassblowers could also have travelled from place to place with their moulds (Price 1991, p.72).
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