NEW YORK, NY.-
Glassmaking originated around 2500 B.C. in Mesopotamia, and by the mid-first millennium B.C. it had spread throughout the ancient world. The number of vessels made from glass remained limited, however, until the introduction of two important technical advancesthe use of the blowpipe and closed multipart moldsin the late first century B.C. and the early first century A.D., respectively. These advances revolutionized the glass industry under the Roman Empire, making glass vessels accessible to all and allowing producers to create a wide range of shapes, sizes, and usages. Some of the earliest vessels made by mold blowing bear the names of the craftsmen who signed the molds.
In the early first century A.D. the most outstanding examples of Roman mold-blown glass were made by a craftsman called Ennion, and products of his workshop are the focus of the exhibition Ennion: Master of Roman Glass, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
. This is the first exhibition of ancient glass organized by the Metropolitan, which has one of the finest collections of this material in the world.
Glasswareprimarily jugs and cupssigned by Ennion was traded throughout the entire Mediterranean world and has been found during archaeological excavations at sites from Israel to Spain. Of the 37 complete or fragmentary vessels in the exhibition, 24 are by Ennion, including the Metropolitan Museums three signed pieces. Examples by other named glassworkers of the periodincluding one of only two intact works by Ennions closest rival, Aristeas, as well as examples of beakers signed by Jason, Neikais, and Megesalso are presented. A selection of unsigned blown glass that illustrates Ennions profound influence on the nascent Roman glass industry also is on view.
The exhibition features works from museums and private collections in Europe, Israel, and the United States. Lenders to the exhibition are The Corning Museum of Glass; Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv; The British Museum; the Louvre; Museo di Antichità, Turin; Musei Civici del Castello Visconteo, Pavia; Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Adria; Yale University Art Gallery; Newark Museum; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; the Yunwai Lou Collection, New York; and the Strada Collection, Scaldasole, Italy. Six works were also lent by Dr. Shlomo Moussaieff, who had the initial concept for the exhibition.
Ancient glassworking techniques are demonstrated within the exhibition by means of a video that was commissioned by the Corning Museum of Glass and filmed at the Roman-style wood-fired furnace at Villa Borg, Germany.
The exhibition was organized by Christopher S. Lightfoot, Curator, Department of Greek and Roman Art. Exhibition design is by Daniel Kershaw, Exhibition Design Manager; graphics are by Mortimer LeBigre; and lighting is by Clint Ross Coller and Richard Lichte, Lighting Design Managers, all of the Museums Design Department.
After the presentation at the Metropolitan Museum, the exhibition will be shown at the Corning Museum of Glass (May 15October 19, 2015).