The Morgan Cup

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Object Name: 
The Morgan Cup
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 6.2 cm; Rim Diam: 7.6 cm
On Display
Credit Line: 
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton, Jr.
Web Description: 
The rarest and most elaborate luxury vessels of the early Roman Empire are cameo glasses. These objects were inspired by relief-cut gems of banded semiprecious stones such as onyx. Glassmakers cased (covered) objects of one color with one or more layers of glass of different colors, opaque white on translucent deep blue being the most popular combination. The layered “blank” was given to a lapidary for carving, cutting, and polishing. The process required great skill and considerable time. This cameo vessel, the Morgan Cup (it was once owned by J. Pierpont Morgan), is decorated with a continuous frieze depicting a religious ceremony at a rural shrine. One side shows a female approaching a statue of Silenus. Women who wanted to become pregnant sometimes invoked the help of the god Dionysus, for whom Silenus, his tutor, here acts as proxy.
Morgan, J. Pierpont, Former Collection
Durighello, Joseph-Ange, Former Collection
Pasha, Moutran, Former Collection
Houghton, Arthur A. Jr., Source
Pierpont Morgan Library, Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Transparent blue and translucent white glass; blown, cased, wheel-cut and engraved; half-ovoid body, flattened at bottom; plain rim with internal bevel; side almost vertical at top, curving in towards bottom; flat base; wall and base cased and cut on wheel and engraved to produce white relief ornament on blue background. Decoration on wall consists of continuous frieze between narrow borderline below rim and groundline above base, asteroid flower in double circle on base. Frieze is a ritual scene: priestess stands facing right, her right arm raised and fingers extended, bearing lighted token in left hand; in front of her, low table with stepped base and baluster; supporting altar with burning pinecone, and fruits; beyond this, herm of Priapus on pedestal, which is garlanded; behind priestess, female with ewer in right hand and tray of objects in left hand at shoulder height; she looks back over right shoulder, and has hair drawn up on top of head and wears Greek tunic; behind her, large handleless krater on gadrooned foot, and behind this another ritual scene; young satyr wearing loincloth bound at waist, fastens one end of curtain to top of column, other end being tied to branches of tree; below curtain, between column and tree, second female kneels facing right, lifts sheet from straight-sided basket; behind tree, donkey stands facing right, tethered to branch, saddled and bridled, stool-like object on top of saddle. Flower has four pointed oval petals with median grooves alternating with four triangular petals with median grooves.
Morgan: Mind of the Collector
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art 2017-09-09 through 2017-12-17
One hundred years after J. P. Morgan Jr. (Jack) distributed more than 1,350 works of art from his father's estate to the Wadsworth Atheneum, the museum will celebrate with an exhibition, curated by Linda Horvitz Roth, and symposium that explores J. Pierpont Morgan's extraordinary career as a collector, with objects drawn primarily from the Wadsworth, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Morgan Library. This exhibition will feature great works of art -- indicative of Morgan's remarkable collection -- in the context of his groundbreaking collecting career. The project will profile what, how, and why Morgan collected, assessing this remarkable man and his colossal achievement with fresh eyes and the distance of a century. Was he a cultural super-hero, a ransacking barbarian, or something more nuanced? What was his impact on scholarship, the art market, and American culture? How did he fit into the collecting history of Europe and America? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in "Morgan: Mind of the Collector". A symposium featuring leading scholars on Morgan and collecting in America will look further at these issues, and it is our plan to publish the papers resulting from the symposium.
Glass of the Caesars
British Museum 1987-11-18 through 1988-03-06
Romisch-Germanisches Museum 1988-04-15 through 1988-10-18
Musei Capitolini 1988-11-03 through 1989-01-31
Corning Museum of Glass
Cameo Glass: Masterpieces from 2000 Years of Glassmaking
Corning Museum of Glass 1982 through 1982
Icon, Cult, and Context : Sacred Spaces and Objects in the Classical World (2016) illustrated, cover, pp. 105-107; BIB# 151525
Archaologischer Kalender 2015 (2014-06) illustrated, November;
Reflections on Glass (2013-11) illustrated, p. 12 (top left); BIB# AI98719
Escort Guide to the Galleries (2013) illustrated, p. 10, top; BIB# 134015
Escort Guide to the Galleries [V4/2013] (2013) illustrated, p. 9, bottom; BIB# 134856
The Individual in the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean (2013) illustrated, Front cover, back cover; BIB# 131659
Introducing Ancient Glass (2012-04) illustrated, p. 23; BIB# AI98798
The 2012 Portland Vase Project: Recreation of a Masterpiece (2012) illustrated, p. 34, bottom; BIB# 131722
Chemical Analyses of Early Glasses (Volume 3) (2012) pp. 387, 682; BIB# 61154
Fire and Ice: Ancient Glass in the Princeton University Art Museum (2012) illustrated, p. 28, fig. 52;
Ancient glass for the modern collector (2011-04) illustrated, p. 38;
The Yearning for Venetian Glass: Beauty that Traversed Oceans and Time (2011) illustrated, p. 19, fig. 5;
The Morgan Cup (family) (2011)BIB# 131507
The Morgan Cup (adult) (2011)BIB# 131512
Glass, Knocking at the Door of Art (2010) illustrated, p. 25; BIB# 115616
Favorite Things (2010) illustrated, back cover; BIB# 75602
Corning Museum of Glass (2009-01) illustrated, p. 4; BIB# 109342
The Joy of Coldworking (2009) illustrated, p. 15; BIB# 107182
Casting Poetic Sentiment: Glass Art Creation Methodology (2008) illustrated, p. 9, fig. 5; BIB# 107146
Frabel: Excellence in Glass Art (2007) illustrated, p. 45; BIB# 100291
The Gather (2007) illustrated, p. 2;
Looking at Glass: A Guide to Terms, Styles and Techniques (2005) illustrated, p. 10; BIB# 99164
The encyclopedia of modern marbles, spheres & orbs (2005) illustrated, p. 20 fig. 14; BIB# 88983
Antikes Glas (Handbuch der Archaologie) (2004) illustrated, p. 212 (Taf. 182); BIB# 83444
Layers of Wonder: Majestic and Marvelous Cameo Glass (2003-05) illustrated, inset between pp. 40-41;
Glass in Art, History, and Science at The Corning Museum of Glass (2003) illustrated, p. 71, no. 20;
The Encyclopedia of Glass (2001) illustrated, p. 38; BIB# 69319
Roman Glass: Reflections on Cultural Change (1999) illustrated, p. 29, Pl. E.37; p. 30; BIB# 72068
Uncovering treasures in the Empire State (1999) p. 130, fig. 1; BIB# AI43699
Chemical Analyses of Early Glasses (Volume 1) (1999) pp. 77, 249; BIB# 61154
Saint-Louis: de l'art du verre a l'art du cristal de 1586 a nos jours (1998) illustrated, p. 16, fig. 5; BIB# 60095
Miller's Antiques Encyclopedia (1998) illustrated, p. 298; BIB# 57739
Roman Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass, Volume One (1997) pp. 41, 48-51, #47A-F; p. 328, #47A-C; BIB# 58895
Glass Act (1993-09) p. 244;
The Corning Museum of Glass and the Finger Lakes Region (1993) illustrated, p. 10, #17; BIB# 35681
History of Glass Crafts (1990-07) p. 46;
A Short History of Glass (1990 edition) (1990) illustrated, p. 28, #17; BIB# 33211
The Portland Vase (1990) illustrated, pp. 140-141, figs. 95-99;
J.P. Morgan: The Financier as Collector (1990) illustrated, p. 21, ill.; BIB# 25136
Masterpieces of Glass: A World History From The Corning Museum of Glass (1990) illustrated, pp. 34-35, pl. 9; BIB# 33819
I Vetri Dei Cesari Arrivan In Inghilterra (Casa Stile) (1988-01) illustrated, p. 22, ill.;
Glass Of The Roman Empire (1988) illustrated, pp. 24-25, fig. 8; pp. 6, 9; BIB# 32608
Glass of the Caesars (1987-08) illustrated, p. 83; BIB# AI18756
Glass of the Caesars (1987) pp. 80-82, #35; BIB# 31831
The Ancient Art of Cameo Glass (1985) illustrated, pp. 34-36, ill. p. 34;
Nihon dai hyakka zensho. 5. (1985) illustrated, p. 838, bottom right; BIB# 3467
Roman Glass in Italy: The Origin of An Industry (1984) illustrated, p. 51;
2,000 Years of Cameo Glass at The Corning Museum (1982-07) illustrated, p. 54;
Cameo Glass: Masterpieces from 2000 Years of Glassmaking (1982) illustrated, pp. 21, 98, #3; BIB# 30609
Story of Glass Coloring Book (1981) illustrated, p. 10, top right; BIB# 67749
A Short History of Glass (1980 edition) (1980) illustrated, p. 26, #17; BIB# 21161
Drei Antike Gefasse aus Kameoglas in Corning, Florenz und Besancon (1964) illustrated, pp. 13-30, figs. 1-3;
Notice d'une coupe en verre antique (1912) p. 172;
Kurisutaru garasu no pepa ueito illustrated, p. 16;