A Roman Swirled Glass Sprinkler Flask, 4th Century CE


A large part of the ancient glasswork repertoire was designed for table use, in particular for carrying and serving water and wine at banquets. Jugs, one of the most frequently used containers, existed in various dimensions (the smaller examples would contain condiments, the largest ones beverages) and shapes: a spherical or more elongated body, a flat or higher, molded base, a trefoil-shaped or circular and elaborate mouth.  This example can certainly be dated to the Late Roman period because of the pale, greenish hue of the glass, the simple form of the base, wide mouth, indented rim and especially the presence of the spiraling patterns in low relief which are clearly visible on the body, having appeared as an ornament in glasswork from the 4th century onward. They were executed by inflating a mold with vertical flutes before the parison would be delicately twisted at its ends to give the decorative motif its final swirling appearance.

Dimensions: Height:  5 1/2 inches (14 cm)

Condition:   This bottle has great presence and although there is a small crack along the edge of the base. Slight iridescence. The bottom is cracked along the edge. Neck and rim scratched.

Provenance: The William R. Crawford collection of Ancient Glass and Antiquities, acquired from the European trade in the 1950s and then by descent.    William R. Crawford, a retired American career diplomat and expert on the Middle East and Cyprus, was Director of Arab-Israeli Affairs at the State Department between 1959-1964, and Deputy Chief of Mission in Cyprus thereafter.  In the 1970s, he was ambassador to Yemen and then to Cyprus and later became principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near East and South Asian affairs.  He donated part of his collection to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts prior to his death in 2002.

Category: $1000 - $5000, Glass

Type: Roman

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