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


Changing Exhibitions Gallery
May 16, 2015 to January 4, 2016

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.

Ennion and His Legacy presented mold-blown master works by Ennion and other Roman glassmakers. The works were drawn from the Corning Museum’s collection of Roman glass, one of the finest in the world.

Within the larger exhibition was a smaller one organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ennion: Master of Roman Glass, which focused specifically on works made by Ennion. Composed of loans from a number of international institutions and private collections, this exhibit within an exhibit brought together many of the known examples of Ennion’s wares.

Exhibition design by Celia Imrey, Imrey Studio, LLC and graphic design by Louise Fili, Louise Fili Ltd.

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

Cup - Artwork
Beaker with Greek Inscription - Artwork
Head Flask - Artwork
Beaker - Artwork
Pyxis with Lid - Artwork
Ribbed Bowl - Artwork
Mold - Artwork
Knobbed or Lotus-Bud Beaker - Artwork
Dip Mold - Artwork
Cup with Gladiators - Artwork