The Corning Museum of Glass possesses one of the most comprehensive collections of Roman glass in the world. Many of the objects that were formed by casting and slumping (techniques inherited from glassworkers of the Hellenistic period) were published by Sidney M. Goldstein in Pre-Roman and Early Roman Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass (1979). The present volume contains descriptions of an additional 481 objects made in the Roman world between the first century B.C. and the seventh or eighth century A.D. Volume 2 of Roman Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass, scheduled for publication in 1999, will complete the catalog of the Museum’s collection of Roman glass.
The catalog entries in volume 1 of Roman Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass are divided into six sections on the basis of technique. Section A describes 33 objects, mainly of the first century A.D., that were formed by casting or pressing; section B consists of three examples of first-century “color-band” vessels made by a combination of casting and blowing; and section C contains a catalog of 40 pieces of cameo glass, all but one of which were made between the late first century B.C. and the mid-first century A.D. Among the highlights of section C is the Morgan Cup, the only early Roman cameo glass vessel that has survived intact.
After the discovery of glass itself, the most important innovation in the history of glassmaking was the discovery, in the first century B.C., that glass can be blown. This discovery enabled glassworkers to produce a greater variety of sizes and shapes, and to make glass much more rapidly than was possible with the traditional techniques of casting and core forming. Consequently, glass ceased to be employed almost exclusively for luxury objects, and inexpensive items became available for everyday use. Section D describes 281 undecorated objects formed by blowing between the late first century B.C. and the seventh or eighth century A.D. The great majority of these objects were made in the Roman Empire, but a few may have been produced outside Rome’s eastern frontier, and some were made in Europe after the fifth century, when the western part of the empire disintegrated.
Section E is a record of 20 blown glass objects with picked-up or blobbed decoration. Included are first-century vessels decorated with small fragments of glass picked up on the parison and either left in relief or marvered and enlarged by further inflation, and third- to fifth-century objects decorated with blobs.
Finally, section F describes 104 objects with cut, engraved, and wheel-abraded decoration. This rich collection ranges in date from the first to the fourth centuries and includes such spectacular pieces as a cage cup, the Populonia Bottle, and a cup depicting the miracle of Christ healing the paralytic.
Each catalog entry consists of a detailed description, usually accompanied by a comment on the significance of the object and notes on similar pieces in other collections. Every object is illustrated, in most cases by a color photograph and a line drawing that shows the profile. The volume also includes concordances and an extensive bibliography.