Sports Cup Depicting Gladiators

Object Name: 
Sports Cup Depicting Gladiators

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Object Name: 
Sports Cup Depicting Gladiators
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 9.6 cm, Diam (max): 8.4 cm; Rim Diam: 6.9 cm
On Display
Credit Line: 
Gift of Arthur A. Houghton, Jr.
Web Description: 
Early mold-blown glasses made in the western Roman Empire include cups and beakers depicting gladiatorial contests and chariot racing. These popular sports drew huge crowds to the amphitheater and the circus. “Sports cups” were blown in two-part molds and decorated with pairs of fighting gladiators or charioteers, identified by inscriptions. Unlike the sophisticated and often deliberately colored products of Ennion, sports cups are relatively crude and made of “natural” green or amber glass. Presumably, they were modestly priced and intended for the mass market. Although some of the gladiators are known to have fought in Italy, the distribution of the cups suggests that many were made in the western provinces. This also implies that the cups were not made to be sold as souvenirs at the events they depict, but to celebrate sporting heroes whom the purchasers may never have seen in action.
Zettl, Gustav, Former Collection
von Cramer, Mrs. Margarethe, Former Collection
Houghton, Arthur A. Jr., Source
Davis, Cecil, Source
M. Licinius Diceus
Primary Description: 
Transparent yellowish-green glass; mold-blown, three-part mold; rim cracked off and ground. Rim curves outward and upward, ground; short cylindrical neck; rounded shoulder; body tapers towards bottom; flat base with slightly concave center. Mold-blown decoration in three registers: on shoulder, with horizontal rib at bottom, inscription "M LICINIVS/DICEVS F"; narrow, with horizontal rib at bottom, eight animals including hound confronting boars, some separated by tree-like motifs; four gladiators, each identified by name, arranged in pairs; PETRAITES, shield on outstretched left arm, right arm in position to strike, faces PRVDES, who drops his shield and rises his left hand in submission; beside PETRAITES, victor's wreath; ORIES, in attitude similar to that of PETRAITES, stands over fallen CALAMVS, who covers body with shield; beside ORIES, victor's palm frond; on base, three concentric circles in relief.
Metropolitan Museum of Art 2014-12-09 through 2015-04-13
Corning Museum of Glass 2015-05-16 through 2016-01-04
At the end of the first century B.C., glassmakers working in the environs of Jerusalem made a revolutionary breakthrough in the way glass was made. They discovered that glass could be inflated at the end of a hollow tube. This technical achievement—glassblowing—made the production of glass vessels much quicker and easier, and allowed glassmakers to develop new shapes and decorative techniques. One technique, inflating glass in molds carved with decorative and figural designs, was used to create multiple examples of a variety of vessel shapes with high-relief patterns. The molds used to shape this ancient glass were complex in their design, and the mold-blown glass vessels of ancient Rome tell a wealth of stories about the ancient world, from gladiators to perfume vessels, from portraits of a Roman empress to oil containers marked with the image of Mercury, Roman god of trade. Among the earliest workshops to design and create mold-blown glass was one in which a man named Ennion worked. Ennion was the first glassmaker to sign his glass objects by incorporating his name into the inscriptions that formed part of the mold’s design, and thus he stands among a small group of glass workers whose names have come down to us from antiquity. On view through January, 4, 2016, Ennion and His Legacy, is composed of mold-blown master works by Ennion and other Roman glassmakers. The works are drawn from the Corning Museum’s collection of Roman glass, one of the finest in the world. Within the larger exhibit is a smaller exhibit organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ennion: Master of Roman Glass, which focuses specifically on works made by Ennion. Composed of loans from a number of international institutions and private collections this exhibit within an exhibit brings together many of the known examples of Ennion’s wares and will be on view through October 19, 2015.
Artisans of Ancient Rome: Production into Art
Newark Museum 1997-09-03 through 1999-01-03
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
Ennion: Master of Roman Glass (2014) illustrated, p. 30 (fig. 20); BIB# 142184
Roman Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass, Volume Two (2001) illustrated, pp. 62-64, pl. 534; BIB# 58895
Artisans of Ancient Rome (1997) p. 3 (no. 1); BIB# 41436
A Short History of Glass (1990 edition) (1990) illustrated, pp. 25-26, #11; BIB# 33211
Glass Of The Roman Empire (1988) illustrated, pp. 38-39, fig. 15; pp. 7, 9; BIB# 32608
Glass of the Caesars (1987) illustrated, p. 167, #88; BIB# 31831
Roman Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass (postcards) (1987) illustrated, #16; BIB# 34348
Special Report: The Corning Glass Center (1985) p. 15;
Story of Glass Coloring Book (1981) illustrated, p. 8, lower right; BIB# 67749
A Short History of Glass (1980 edition) (1980) illustrated, p. 22, #11; BIB# 21161
All You Need to Know About Glass (1979-09) pp. 40-46, ill. p. 41;
A Roman Sports Cup (1958) pp. 2-5, cover photo;
The Corning Glass Center (1958) illustrated, p. 12 (left); BIB# 26395
Sotheby's 213th Season 1956-1957 (1957)
Fine Greek, Minoan, Roman and Egyptian antiquities (1957) lot #112 (frontispiece);
Diceus Poliara (1894-12) p. 392 ff;