Plate of Al-Yaqoussah

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Object Name: 
Plate of Al-Yaqoussah
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 3.6 cm; Rim Diam: 21 cm
On Display
Web Description: 
This shallow, painted plate was discovered, along with a statuette of the Roman goddess Venus, during clandestine excavations in a grave at al-Yaqoussah in southern Syria in 1943, during World War II, and passed into the hands of the Damascus dealer A. Dahdad. Dahdad tried to sell the two objects to the National Museum of Damascus, who refused to pay the requested amount due to the poor condition of the plate (Dahdad had attempted to clean it with acid, further damaging the surface). Dahdad sold it to M.E. Boutros, a dealer in Beirut, who subsequently sold the plate to the American collector Ray Winfield Smith in 1951 or shortly before for a price eight times higher than the one at which the Damascus museum deemed it overpriced. After being displayed at the Louvre and other European museums, the plate came to be known as the “Paris Plate” after its scene depicting the ancient myth of the “Judgement of Paris.” It arrived in Corning in 1955 and was acquired by the museum. In 1964, Selim Abdul-Hak (1913-1992), who was the Director General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria, gave a lecture to an international group of glass scholars in Damascus in which he recounted the modern history as he knew it. (The text of the lecture was published in 1966.) However, Abdul-Hak was not certain what had become of the plate after it was sold to the American collector, only had access to a poor-quality photograph, and was unaware of the identification of the scene as the Judgement of Paris. In his talk and the subsequent publication of the paper in 1966, Abdul-Hak poignantly asked for information on the current whereabouts of the plate – which was of course in Corning, as would have been well known to the assembled group of experts – and expressed his infinite regret that the plate had left his country. In 1972, the delicate painting on the surface of the plate was further damaged in the Corning flood caused by the aftereffects of Hurricane Agnes. Acknowledging that names matter and yet are only a small redress of past inequities, the Corning Museum of Glass is now calling this object the Plate of Al-Yaqoussah in recognition of its Syrian patrimony and the location where the plate was buried by its ancient owner and found almost 2,000 years later, rather than the prior name of the Paris Plate after its iconography which suggests a specious connection to the French city.
Dahdad, Mr. A., Former Collection
Boutros, M. E., Former Collection
Smith, Ray Winfield (American, 1897-1982), Source
Primary Description: 
Plate, "Plate of Al-Yaqoussah". Colorless glass with small bubbles; blown, reverse cold painted. Shallow, thin-walled bowl; short, slightly flaring rim rounded by reheating; side curves in to convex bottom. Painted on exterior with Judgment of Paris in black, white and shades of grey, yellow, brown and violet, on red background. Paris, seated on left, in Oriental attire, with shepherd's crook in right hand, stares at spectator, as though in indecision. At his side stands Hermes (identified in Greek capitals, Ermes), naked except for chlamys fastened on right shoulder and draped over left arm. On his head are small wings, with a lotus leaf or similar motif between them; behind his head is nimbus. He turns to Paris, indicating Goddesses with herald's staff. Next to Hermes, in center of scene, stands Aphrodite, lower part of body only clad in chiton, with mantle behind her back. One end of mantle is draped around left forearm, other end held by nude Eros (identified as Pothos, Desire), who flies towards her. Beside Aphrodite sits Hear, fully dressed in peplos with belted overfold, mantle on back of head, diadem and shoes, holding scepter. Hear turns away from Aphrodite and Paris. On right of scene is Athena, seated with one foot placed on rock, wearing peplos with overfold, helmet and shoes, holding spear in right hand and resting left hand on shield with central gorgoneion. In foreground, which depicts stream or pool and meadow, on lower slopes of Mount Ida, two sheep from Paris' flock.
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
Glass: A Short History (Smithsonian Books edition) (2012) illustrated, p. 40; BIB# 130360
Glass: A Short History (The British Museum edition) (2012) illustrated, p. 40; BIB# 135965
Chemical Analyses of Early Glasses (Volume 3) (2012) pp. 406, 682; BIB# 61154
Antikes Glas (Handbuch der Archaologie) (2004) illustrated, p. 535 (Taf. 355); BIB# 83444
Roman Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass, Volume Two (2001) pp. 261-264, pls. 858A-D; BIB# 58895
Chemical Analyses of Early Glasses (Volume 1) (1999) pp. 80, 249; BIB# 61154
Reverse Paintings on Glass (1992) illustrated, p. 28; BIB# AI57440
Glass of the Caesars (1987) illustrated, p. 271, #149; BIB# 31831
Garasu Nyumon (Introduction to Glass) (1983) illustrated, p. 97; BIB# 32417
Glass from the Ancient World: The Ray Winfield Smith Collection (1957) illustrated, pp. 164-165, #341; BIB# 27315
A Masterpiece of Late Roman Glass Painting (1956) pp. 3-7;
Ancient Italy (1955) p. 66, fig. 210; BIB# 19775
A Glass Bowl with the "Judgment of Paris" (1953-06) pp. 180-187, fig. 1; BIB# AI47081