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Corning Museum of Glass Acquires Two Objects from Antiquity

bowl featuring a colorful inlaid Nilotic scene. Preserved for over three millennia, these works showcase the ingenuity and creativity of ancient glassmakers.

The Roman bowl, which dates from the 4th-5th century A.D., has never been published or publicly displayed and is the only complete or nearly complete example of this type of inlaid vessel. Against a background of a dark, aubergine glass, a fantastic Nile Valley landscape with colorful birds, an insect, plants, and flowers unfolds across the surface of bowl’s interior. The birds, among them a flamingo, a heron, ducks, and a partridge, are all meant to be seen from a single vantage point, and are shown in an aquatic environment. Hemispherical bowls of this nature were often used to consume wine. When filled with liquid, the bowl’s decorative scheme would have been enhanced, as if the birds and flowers were actually situated within a watery landscape.

Preserved from around about 1353–1336 B.C., the highly stylized portrait of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten reflects the finest level of craftsmanship from this period. The father of King Tutankhamen, Akhenaten moved the capital from Thebes to the site of Amarna, where an entire city rose from the sands. The group of artists whose work decorated the new capital broke from the established traditional style of Egyptian art, which was idealized and severely formal. Their depiction of the human form was exaggerated, with sagging bellies, thin arms and legs, sumptuous lips, long oval eyes, and high, carefully carved cheekbones. These characteristics are present in the inlay acquired by the Corning Museum, a blue portrait featuring a long neck, high cheekbone, full lips, and long, slanted eye.

Both works complement and enhance the Museum’s current holdings in these areas. The collection includes fragments from vessels similar to the Roman bowl as well as a number of Egyptian inlays, none of which are royal portraits. Overall, the antiquities collection includes many fine examples of vessels, jewelry, and sculptural objects from ancient Egypt and Rome, as well as Western Asia and the Hellenistic world of the eastern Mediterranean.

Located in the heart of the Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York State, the Corning Museum of Glass is open daily, year-round. Kids and teens, 19 and under, receive free admission. –

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