ANCIENT ROMAN OLIVE GREEN FLASK

S O L D

Measurements: 17.8 cm − height, 7 cm − width

 

Description: A Roman olive green blown glass flask with wide, high shoulders that narrow to the rounded base, and a short cylindrical neck that widens to a funnel mouth, with the rim folded in. This flask has a greenish iridescence over the whole. The item comes with a perspex stand.

 

The word iridescence comes from Iris, the Greek goddess of rainbows and refers to rainbow-like colours seen on glass. It is caused by alkali being leached from the glass by acidic water and then forming fine layers that eventually separate slightly or flake off, causing a prism effect on light bouncing off and passing through the surface which reflects light differently, resulting in a dynamic appearance seen in the deep green effect on this flask. Glass vessels were extremely popular throughout the Roman Empire, since they contained perfume and oil, considered precious at the time and often used both in private life and public ceremonies. The satirist Martial ridiculed many Roman public figures for smothering their hair and bodies with costly scented oils, contained in vessels such as this piece, yet a passion for fine cosmetics remained one of the constants of Roman daily life.

 

Reference: Christie's sale 12239, lot 129.

Christie's sale 2364, lot 86.

Stern, E. M., Roman, Byzantine, and Early Medieval Glass, 2001, p. 241.

 

Period: 3rd - 4th century AD

 

Condition: Very fine, intact, with an attractive iridescence and earthy encrustations over the whole.

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