Ennion and His Legacy: Mold-Blown Glass from Ancient Rome
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.