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A Roman Glass Omphalos Dish with Applied Handles, Roman Imperial, 1st Century AD

This fine plate, of transparent glass with pale green hue, is remarkable both for its excellent state of preservation and for its graceful shape.  The simple form is linear and elegant:  the wide shallow body is hemispherical, that then flairs expansively outward to a broad flat shoulder and rounded rim featuring small trail grip handles on either side.  Each handle was applied as a trail of molten glass then carefully incised to form ribbing using a metal tool.  The plate is supported by slightly concave, disk-shaped foot and within the centre is a rasied dome, a shallow " "omphalos", representing the navel of the world.  The plate is free-blown, the evenness reflecting the skill of the artisan, and the impressively smooth finish was obtained by hand polishing.

For related examples see:  Isings, C. (1957) Roman Glass From Dated Finds. Groningen: J. B. Wolters,  form 43;  Israel Museum 77.12.98, Louvre CP 8722, and Louvre NIII 3434.

Dimensions: Diameter:  7 7/8 inches (20 cm)

Condition: The plate is virtually intact with heavy iridescence visible on the surface in places. It is in excellent condition overall with no chips, cracks or breaks and is accompanied by a custom mount (not shown in photos) commissioned by Mr. Crawford from the Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington DC.

Provenance: The William R. Crawford collection of Ancient Glass and Antiquities, acquired from the European trade in the 1950's 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 1970's, 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.

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