Head Flask

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Object Name: 
Head Flask
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 19.6 cm, W (head): 7.7 cm; Rim Diam: 5.7 cm; Foot Diam: 6.8 cm;
On Display
Web Description: 
After the mid-fourth century, glassmaking declined in the Roman Empire. In the east, where the decline was less pronounced, a group of deep blue flasks, pitchers, and lamps with coiled bases was produced. They seem to have been made in a single workshop, but examples have been found as far afield as the Sudan and South Korea. One member of the group is this head flask, which was blown in a two-part mold. The handle was applied to the neck, drawn out and down, and attached to the head. The remaining glass was dragged down to the neck and notched. The thumb-rest at the apex of the handle was made by pinching the hot glass with pincers. Only three other head flasks made from the same mold are known to exist. The Corning flask once belonged to the celebrated operatic tenor Enrico Caruso.
Smith, Ray Winfield (American, 1897-1982), Source
American Art Galleries, Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Transparent deep blue bubbly glass; mold-blown, applied, tooled. Form of human head; rim outsplayed, sprung; neck tapers towards bottom, then splays slightly; body in form of youthful head with straight hair cut in fringe across forehead and cut off straight at nape of neck, prominent ears; base consists of thread wound three times to form splayed foot ring; applied wishbone handle attached to lower part of neck, sharply angled with pincered thumb piece, then attached to back of head, drawn down to foot, then notched between lower attachment and bottom.
Metropolitan Museum of Art 2014-12-09 through 2015-04-13
Corning Museum of Glass 2015-05-16 through 2016-01-04
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. On view through January, 4, 2016, Ennion and His Legacy, is composed of mold-blown master works by Ennion and other Roman glassmakers. The works are drawn from the Corning Museum’s collection of Roman glass, one of the finest in the world. Within the larger exhibit is a smaller exhibit organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ennion: Master of Roman Glass, which focuses specifically on works made by Ennion. Composed of loans from a number of international institutions and private collections this exhibit within an exhibit brings together many of the known examples of Ennion’s wares and will be on view through October 19, 2015.
Corning Museum of Glass
Changing Exhibitions Gallery
The Fragile Art: Extraordinary Objects from The Corning Museum of Glass
Park Avenue Armory 2009-01-23 through 2009-02-01
The 55th Annual Winter Antiques Show
Ambrose and Agustine: The Origins of Europe
Museo Diocesano 2003-11-01 through 2004-06-01
(exhibit title) Ambrogio e Agostino: Le sorgenti dell'Europe
Glass of the Caesars
British Museum 1987-11-18 through 1988-03-06
Romisch-Germanisches Museum 1988-04-15 through 1988-10-18
Musei Capitolini 1988-11-03 through 1989-01-31
Corning Museum of Glass
Glass from the Ancient World
Corning Museum of Glass 1957-06-04 through 1957-09-15
Ancient Art in American Private Collections
Fogg Art Museum 1954
Verres Antiques de la Collection R.W. Smith
Musee de Mariemont 1954 through 1954
The Decanter: Ancient to Modern (2018) illustrated, pp. 18 (fig. 4), 353 (fig. 1);
The Decanter: Ancient to Modern (2018) illustrated, pp. 18 (fig. 4), 353 (fig. 1);
La escultura en vidrio (2017) illustrated, p. 133 (fig. 3.30);
Mould-Blown Glass from Ancient Rome (2015-07) illustrated, p. 14 (top); BIB# AI100202
Medieval Glass for Popes, Princes, and Peasants (2010) illustrated, pp. 100-101, #6; BIB# 115588
Jurors' Choice (2010) illustrated, p. 77; BIB# AI79770
387 d.c./ambrogio e agostino/le sorgenti dell'europa (2003) illustrated, p. 323, no. 279; p. 429; BIB# 78110
Roman Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass, Volume Two (2001) illustrated, pp. 74-75, pl. 548; BIB# 58895
A Distinctive Group of Late Roman Glass Vessels (1997) illustrated, p. 374, pl. 1; p. 367 ff.; BIB# 112248
Glass Capturing the Dance of Light (1993) illustrated, p. 62, bottom; BIB# AI30595
Glass Of The Roman Empire (1988) illustrated, pp. 42-43, fig. 17; pp. 7, 9; BIB# 32608
Title Unknown (The Buffalo News) (1987-06-07) illustrated, Front Page; Section G;
Glass of the Caesars (1987) illustrated, p. 175, #96; BIB# 31831
Roman Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass (postcards) (1987) illustrated, #18; BIB# 34348
Glass from the Ancient World: The Ray Winfield Smith Collection (1957) illustrated, pp. 140-141, #279; BIB# 27315
Catalogue des Verres Antiques de la Collection Ray Winfield Smith (1954) illustrated, p. 26, #119, pl. XIV; BIB# 28196