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Reflecting Antiquity: Modern Glass Inspired by Ancient Rome

In the 19th century, an age of revivals in art and architecture, European glassmakers reproduced a wide variety of historical styles. Among their primary influences were ancient Roman cameo, gold, and mosaic glasses, as well as cage cups. This book presents examples of these Roman glass forms and some of the objects made in imitation of them.

A catalog for the 2007 exhibition of the same name, this book examines the role that archaeology played in vitalizing the modern glass industry. As archeological exploration began in Italy and elsewhere around the Mediterranean in the 18th and 19th centuries, fragmentary and whole glass vessels were uncovered along with many other material remains. Modern glassmakers were astounded at the rich variety of glass vessels that had been manufactured in antiquity, using techniques that were unfamiliar to them. They set about replicating these ancient techniques, first by trying to reproduce Roman masterpieces such as the Portland Vase, and then by interpreting them anew with their own designs and shapes. The results of this experimentation led to the formation of such commercial endeavors as the English cameo glass industry, the Rheinische Glashütten A.G. in Ehrenfeld, and the Compagnia di Venezia e Murano (C.V.M.) in Venice. This rediscovery continues today as glassmakers and scientists study the techniques and materials used by ancient glassmakers.

The exhibition and book were products of a collaboration between Dr. Karol Wight, then curator of antiquities at The J. Paul Getty Museum (now the Corning Museum’s executive director), and Dr. David Whitehouse, then executive director of The Corning Museum of Glass. Their work over many years has led to an exceptional assemblage of rare and beautiful works of glass art, giving us a new appreciation for a material that we so often take for granted in our everyday lives.

234 pages, 163 color and 8 black and white illustrations
David Whitehouse and others
Publication Year: 

Reflecting Antiquity: Modern Glass Inspired by Ancient Rome