Roman Portrait Medallion Made of Glass

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Al Kowsky, Nov 27, 2020.

  1. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    The Corning Museum of Glass recently purchased an important & extremely rare medallion made of glass, see photo below. Only about 2 dozen similar medallions are known to exist. To create the design the artist glued a piece of gold foil onto a piece of blue glass, then scratched away the background with a stylus. He then carefully enameled the portrait, followed by heating the disk to about 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Once heated, it was picked up on the end of a glass bubble, sandwiching the disk between two layers of glass. The last step was to cut the round shape of the medallion. This medallion undoubtedly belonged to an important person, possibly a senator or high ranking official. The inscription ANATOLI GAVDEAS translates "Anatolius, rejoice !".

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    Roman Glass Medallion, circa AD300, 49 mm, probably made in Rome. Ex collection Count Michel Tyszkiewicz (1827-1897).
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  3. otlichnik

    otlichnik Well-Known Member

    Beautiful and fascinating. It is interesting that it was made in Rome. The style reminds me of painted mummy cases from the same era. It shows that there was a "painting style" that existed across the Empire. Makes you regret the loss of all the actual paintings on cloth that we know from ancient authors once existed.....

  4. robinjojo

    robinjojo Supporter! Supporter


    The portrait is very reminiscent of those discovered in Pompeii, Herculaneum and Baiae.
  5. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    otlichnik, You raise a good point, this painting style was popular in Alexandria, Egypt & as robinjojo points out was common in southern Italy also. It is very natural that this medallion was made in Rome. The technology necessary to make an object like this is staggering. Expertise is necessary in glass making, enameling, & gold work. The artist knew in order to fuse the glass disks together & not lose the gold foil work the heat could not exceed 900 degrees Fahrenheit. It wasn't until the 18th century that European craftsmen successfully duplicated this technique.
    DonnaML likes this.
  6. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    Oh, absolutely its such a shame. I remember reading somewhere that a famous Greek painter's grapes were so realistic that birds would often stop by to try to take a bite. Just imagine..
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