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Ancient Roman Rainbow Glass Alabastron- Iridescent Cosmetic Bottle

Ancient Roman Rainbow Glass Alabastron- Iridescent Cosmetic Bottle


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Roman: Glass: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1336775
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An Ancient Roman Iridescent 'Rainbow' Glass Alabastron (A Cosmetic Vessel For Perfumes, Fragrant Oils, Etc.):
Period: Circa 2nd to 4th Century CE, Ancient Roman Empire.

This conical Roman glass vessel of a rather unique and rare shape most closely identifiable with the broad category of "alabastron," is a truly spectacular example of the shimmering iridescent multi-colored "rainbow" effect, a trait which makes for one of the most prized and sought-after attributes of ancient Roman glass. Alabastron such as this vessel were most probably used in Ancient Rome by women of means for hold cosmetic ointments such as perfume and similar fragrant oils, but this example is certainly worth of special attention as it is of a rather unique and skillfully created style of vessel for the period; it resembles several other clearly categorized ancient glass shapes but differs substantially in some way from each. It is most similar in use, era and place of manufacture, although far more refined and precise in it's shape and style, to the quite common Roman Unguentarium, however it does not share the same rounded bottom (and often grotesque shape) that is often a distinguishing characteristic of the latter form of vessel. Although being made centuries later, this very well made cosmetic vial seems to most closely resemble the much earlier Greek Alabastron and Aphoriskos, which were also often very precisely and finely made, although not sharing the double handles almost always found on either side of the neck portion of the Amphora and Amphoriskos (similar to the handles found on it's ancestor, the stirrup-vessel) and while sharing the pointed bottom of the earlier Greek vessel, this Roman version lacks the curved tapering sides associated with Hellenistic Greek Amphora.
The body of this vessel, which has abnormally straight and symmetrical tapering sides, reducing to a distinctly sharp point at it's bottom, forms a near perfectly straight cone-shaped body that is much more precise than is found in the cases of unguentarium of this same period in Ancient Rome; the top of these tapering sides turn precisely inward to form an acute angular shoulder followed by a surprisingly straight and flat surface for the short length inward of the shoulders before the body line turns precisely upwards at a 90 degree angle to give the vessel a neck line that is perfectly perpendicular to that of the shoulder and which remains rigidly straight and even in width as it moves upwards for the entirety of its length, until just before the opening the neck flares slightly outward, again with an uncommonly precise symmetry, to create opening of the vessel. The piece is finished with a glass ridge encircling the neck.

There is no doubt that this vessel was formed by a very skilled glassmaker for his time; one who was familiar with the innovations of modern Roman style, while also being skilled in the practice of core-form glass making, which had been used 1000 years before the production of this vessel in the fine pieces made by the Ancient Greek, but had been left behind by Roman-era artisans for the quickly mass-produced, but often much less fine, blown glass of Ancient Rome in the 1st century CE onward. One would be hard-pressed to find any ancient Roman glass vessel which equals the excellence in craftsmanship, innovative shape and style and flawless condition of the stunning piece offered herein.

Dimensions: Height (Vessel ONLY/No Stand)- 4 1/4 inches.

Condition: Perfect! No blemishes, cracks, issues or repairs of any kind visual to the naked eye, under digital microscope, or by way of UV Light Examination. A True Textbook Example of a Museum-Quality Piece!

Two Millenia of Influence: Little known is the fact that Ancient Roman Rainbow Glass, as in this example, was the inspiration for Louis Comfort Tiffany to begin his line of 'Favrile' Glass, produced by Tiffany Studios beginning in the late 19th Century and carried on well into the 20th century by Tiffany, beginning the movement joined by other art glass innovators such as Fenton and Loetz!

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