King Athamas

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Object Name: 
King Athamas
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 24.9 cm, W: 26.1 cm, D: 15.4
On Display
designed 1957
made in 1993
Web Description: 
Jean Cocteau (1889–1963) was a celebrated French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, and filmmaker. A member of the prestigious Académie Française, he was an international celebrity best known for his surrealist films. Cristallerie Daum, one of the leading glass manufacturers in France, invited Cocteau in 1957 to design a limited edition series of objects in pâte de verre, a glass-casting technique. The pitcher acquired by the Museum is one of a group of three created by Cocteau that depict the ancient Greek King Athamas, his wife Ino, and their son Melicertes. As related in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, at the end of their lives, King Athamas and Ino were driven insane, Athamas murdered their son Learchus, and Ino and Melicertes fled to the sea, where they jumped into the water and were transformed into sea deities. Subjects drawn from the Metamorphoses and other well-known classical sources have been longstanding themes for artists and designers since the Renaissance. Cocteau’s characteristically simple, almost childlike, design for the pitcher shows King Athamas with a calm, sweet, and slightly smiling expression, somewhat like that of an ancient Greek kouros (youth). Edition 123/250.
Kunst-und Auktionhaus Dr. Jurgen Fischer, Source
Engraved On underside of pitcher.
Daum France
Engraved On side of pitcher near edge of base. in script
Jean Cocteau
Engraved On side of pitcher, lower "neck" area
Primary Description: 
Jug, "Athamas". Translucent dark blue glass; pate-de-verre. Face in the shape of a pitcher with gilded eyes, nose, mouth and rim.
Jurors' Choice (New Glass Review 32) (2011) illustrated, p. 83, top; BIB# AI95693
Recent Important Acquisitions (2007) illustrated, p. 111; BIB# AI75166
Sammlung Buchecker - Luzern (2006) p. 79, #164; BIB# 92032