Queen Tomyris with the Head of Cyrus

Queen Tomyris with the Head of Cyrus

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Object Name: 
Queen Tomyris with the Head of Cyrus
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 15.5 cm, W: 11.6 cm
On Display
about 1610-1620
Web Description: 
This is one of the earliest known engraved glasses from Nuremberg. It is also the only known piece signed by Hans Wessler, a goldsmith and the first of that city’s glass engravers. The plaque depicts Queen Thomyris with the severed head of Cyrus the Great, king of Persia in the sixth century B.C. Her story is related by the Greek historian Herodotus. Cyrus attempted to conquer the Massagetae in Central Asia, who were ruled by Thomyris. Although her son’s forces fell victim to a trap set by Cyrus, her troops ultimately routed the Persians and killed Cyrus. In Western art, the revenge of Thomyris represents the victory of good over evil. The plaque shown here was based on a copper engraving of 1530 made by Georg Pencz (about 1500-1550) in Nuremberg.
Zuylen, Albert von, Source
Primary Description: 
Colorless (gray) non-lead glass; blown, polished, grozed, ground, engraved. Flat, rectangular sheet; polished flat on both sides; edges grozed and partly ground; engraved scene on one side, depicts a nude female, wearing a crown, sandals, and a string of beads, holding a severed, bearded man's head in her right hand, a sword in her left; a soldier at her right, wearing a plumed helmet, armor and sandals, holds out a sack to receive the head; a headless body lies on grassy ground at their feet, wearing armor and sandals; another soldier stands at the left, wearing a plumed helmet, armor, and boots terminating in animal's heads at his knees; trees and shrubs frame the scene at left and right; small, rectangular "rock" at the lower right, inscribed "HW".
Verre et Gravure: une histoire et des musees (2002-12-02) p. 53, fig. 4; BIB# AI70725
A Short History of Glass (1990 edition) (1990) illustrated, p. 62, #53; BIB# 33211
Masterpieces of Glass: A World History From The Corning Museum of Glass (1990) illustrated, pp. 134-135, pl. 59; BIB# 33819
Comments on Caspar Lehmann, Central European Glass and Hard Stone Engraving (1981) illustrated, pp. 40-41, fig. 12; BIB# AI8175
A Short History of Glass (1980 edition) (1980) illustrated, p. 56, #51; BIB# 21161
Masterpieces of Glass: A World History from The Corning Museum of Glass (1980) illustrated, cover; pp. 134-135, pl. 59; BIB# 20953
Recent Important Acquisitions, 19 (1977) illustrated, pp. 172-173, #22; BIB# AI90914
The Corning Museum of Glass Annual Report 1976 (1977) illustrated, p. 4, #2; BIB# AI97146
Der Nurnberger Glasschnitt des 17. Jahrhunderts (1963) pp. 14-15, 74; pl. 1; BIB# 25581
Verres Nurembergeois conserves a Liege (1963) pp. 93-95, fig. 1; BIB# AI59529