Featured Mosaic Glass from Reflecting Antiquity

Like a stone mosaic, ancient mosaic glass is formed from a number of smaller pieces, usually circular slices from short lengths of canes (rods) of glass. Canes were made from either one color of glass or a variety of colors that were fused together and manipulated into patterns. Ancient mosaic glass dates back to 2500 B.C. in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq and western Iran), but glassmakers did not begin manufacturing a wide variety of mosaic vessels until the second and first centuries B.C.

  • Artwork
    Face canes were rarely embedded in bowls. Four cane slices with female busts are distributed evenly on the bottom of this cup. The object also features a checkerboard pattern of diamond-shaped canes that are arranged in groups of four to form large diamonds.
  • Artwork
    The most elaborate Hellenistic canes are those with faces and other decorative imagery. The slices were cut from complex bars made of composite parts. They are often attributed to Alexandrian workshops because of their Egyptian motifs, but many of them may have come from Rome. Halves of faces were used, as in this instance, to form complete, symmetrical faces by combining two slices from the same bar, one of which was reversed.
  • Artwork
    In this shallow bowl, floral murrine are combined with slices of a spiral cane.
  • Artwork
    This is one of four finished versions of the ancient Roman cup in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Barovier (1974, p. 116) stated that one of the reproductions was displayed at the 1878 world’s fair in Paris. The bowl and the solid foot were cast in one piece.
  • Artwork
    Although this object is derived from ancient ribbon glass bowls, its inclusion of characteristic face canes and one “VM” cane in the center identify it as a product of the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano. In addition, the form is thoroughly modern. A hemispherical bowl is combined with a flared dish that has been inverted.