Beaker with Atalanta and Hippomenes

Object Name: 
Beaker with Atalanta and Hippomenes

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Object Name: 
Beaker with Atalanta and Hippomenes
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 24.6 cm, Diam (max): 13.9 cm
On Display
Web Description: 
This large beaker (H. 24.6 cm) was found near Volterra, Italy, in or before 1919. It was blown from two gathers of almost colorless glass. The ornament was facet-cut, polished, and engraved. The beaker is Roman and the style of the ornament indicates that it was made in the late second or third century A.D. The principal ornament consists of a continuous frieze containing two figures and an assortment of vegetation and other motifs. The first figure is a man running from the viewer's left to right. His head is turned back to look over his shoulder. Near his foot is a ball-like object. An inscription in Greek letters identifies him as Hippomenes. The second figure is a woman, also running from left to right, apparently in pursuit of the man. She holds a sword in her right hand and she reaches out as if to grasp the man. A second inscription in Greek letters identifies her as Atalanta The scene illustrates a well-known story from Greek mythology. Atalanta, the swiftest mortal, had been warned by the Delphic oracle never to marry. When her father told Atalanta to take a husband, she agreed to do so on the condition that she be allowed to race against her suitors. She would accept any suitor who could beat her, but would kill all of those whom she defeated. One of her suitors, Hippomenes, sought help from the goddess Aphrodite, who gave him three golden apples and told him to drop them one by one during the race. On the beaker, Hippomenes is in the lead. Atalanta is about to catch up with him. Expecting to overtake Hippomenes and win the race, she is ready to kill him with her sword. Hippomenes, however, has no intention of losing the race and he drops an apple to distract Atalanta. In the story, Atalanta stopped three times to pick up the apples, and lost the race.
Sangiorgi, Giorgio (Italian, 1886-1965), Former Collection
Sangiorgi, Sergio (Italian), Source
Leader, John Temple (British, 1810-1903), Former Collection
Bethell, Richard Luttrell Pilkington (British, 1852-1930), Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Almost colorless glass, but with pale yellowish green tint; blown (two gathers), facet-cut, polished, and engraved. Beaker: conical. Rim outsplayed, cracked off and ground; wall tapers; floor flat; shallow conical foot, hollow, with ground edge; no pontil mark. Decorated with continuous figural frieze, with borders above and below. Upper border: between pair incised lines on rim and one raised countersunk line on upper wall, two rows of about sixty narrow oval facets; those in upper row slope down from right to left, while those in lower row slope down from left to right, together making chevron-like motifs. Frieze: two figures, with vegetation and other motifs, all of which have outlines and some details indicated by broad, polished cuts and facets, and most details indicated by shallow linear cuts; (A) male, naked or partially naked, running from viewer's left to right, his torso shown frontally and his head in profile, turned back to look behind him; near his left foot, ball-like object; he is identified by inscription in Greek capitals on either side of head: iota, pi, pi, omicron, mu, epsilon round form| nu / eta, sigma round form|, Hippomenes; in front of him, (B) stump of tree, with spray of three leafy branches sprouting from it; in front of tree and behind figure (A), (C) female, running from left to right, evidently in pursuit of (A), naked except for short, skirt-like garment, her torso shown frontally and her head evidently in profile, facing forward; she holds sword in right hand and reaches forward with left hand, as though trying to apprehend figure (A); beneath her left arm, garland or some other circular object, apparently with ribbons; she is identified by inscription in Greek capitals on either side of head: alpha, tau, alpha lambda / alpha, nu| tau, eta, Atalan|te; between (A), (B), and (C), small comma-like motifs, sometimes in pairs, and scribbled suggestions of vegetation. Lower border consists of horizontal groove, which in effect is ground-line of frieze, and, below this, band of thirty-one rather uneven narrow vertical facets.
Ancient and Islamic Glass: Selections from the Corning Museum of Glass (2019) illustrated, pp. 68-69;
The Cut-Glass Beaker from Biel-Mett/BE (2015) illustrated, pp. 182-183 (fig. 4); BIB# 712762
Chemical Analyses of Early Glasses (Volume 3) (2012) pp. 408, 682; BIB# 61154
Chemical Analyses of Early Glasses (Volume 1) (1999) pp. 80, 249, 251; BIB# 61154
Roman Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass, Volume One (1997) pp. 237-239, #402A-B; p. 369, #402A-B; BIB# 58895
Atalante (1984) pp. 940-950, no. 78;
Atalanta (1983) p. 12;
La corsa di Atalante e Hippomenes figurata in alcuni oggetti antichi (1919) illustrated, pp. 82-85 (fig. 1-2); BIB# 713966
Vincigliata and Maiano (1891) p. 100; BIB# 28724