Plaque with Actor's Mask

Object Name: 
Plaque with Actor's Mask

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Object Name: 
Plaque with Actor's Mask
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 2.8 cm, W: 2.4 cm
On Display
25 BC-75 AD
Web Description: 
For three centuries following its conquest by Alexander in 332 B.C., Egypt was ruled by Macedonian Greeks. These rulers and their subjects enjoyed Greek drama. Troupes of actors presented performances in major towns throughout Egypt. Some of the most popular characters appeared in the comedies of the Athenian playwright Menander, whose plays remained popular long after his death. The actors employed conventionalized masks to represent these characters, and the distinctive colors and features of the masks made them instantly recognizable. The characters included soldiers, slaves, and courtesans, and they were portrayed in mosaic glass plaques that became popular decorative motifs. Glassmakers used halves of faces to form complete, symmetrical faces by combining two slices from the same cane, one of which was simply reversed. Here is one such mask, which shows Menander’s brothel keeper.
Sangiorgi, Sergio, Source
Sangiorgi, Giorgio, Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Canes of opaque yellow, opaque brick-red, opaque white and translucent amethyst glass in a translucent yellow-green matrix, bubbly with some black stone and surface pitting; mosaic glass technique. Plaque formed of two identical halves mounted in a modern gilt paper binder; a fantastic theatrical mask consisting of a yellow face with elements delineated in amethyst; eyes are formed of amethyst centers with concentric circles of yellow, amethyst, and white on a red ground; an amethyst liner and eyelash, and an alternating opaque white and opaque yellow eyebrow; the mouth is amethyst surrounded by brick-red and a mustache of alternating opaque white and colorless canes along with colorless strokes indicating lines on the cheek; hair formed of triangular canes of opaque white set in colorless glass and outlined with an opaque white cane, the hair and beard terminate in long thin streaks.
The Lure of Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs Revisited
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg 1996-01-10 through 1996-06-09
Designs in Miniature: The Story of Mosaic Glass
Corning Museum of Glass 1995-06-03 through 1995-10-22
Photography of Personal Adornment: Photographic Techniques (2014) illustrated, p. 135 (bottom); BIB# 134841
Glass: A Short History (Smithsonian Books edition) (2012) illustrated, pp. 26-27; BIB# 130360
Glass: A Short History (The British Museum edition) (2012) illustrated, pp. 26-27; BIB# 135965
Ancient glass for the modern collector (2011-04) illustrated, p. 39;
Glass, Knocking at the Door of Art (2010) illustrated, pp. 26-27; BIB# 115616
The Corning Museum of Glass (2010) illustrated, p. 65;
Window, mirror, and prism (2009-01) illustrated, p. 124;
Alexandrinische Mosaikglaseinlagen (2008) illustrated, p. 81; BIB# 103573
Designs in Miniature: The Story of Mosaic Glass (1995) illustrated, cover; pp. 11-12; p. 11, Fig. 10; BIB# 26765
Pre-Roman and Early Roman Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass (1979) illustrated, p. 237, #688, pl. 32; BIB# 29547