Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection


Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on September 5, 2018


Medusa Roman Glass Medallion NFB 301

Medusa Roman Glass Medallion NFB 301Mid 1st century AD. Italy

D max = 3.7 cm. Weight = 12 gr

Condition: Intact. Traces of grinding.

Technique: Cast/pressed into open mold.

Description: Translucent cobalt blue glass with a thin opaque white layer on the backside.
Circular medallion with rounded edge. Head of Medusa modelled in high relief (8.5 mm) surrounded by snakes. Deep set, bulging eyes, narrow nose and open mouth. Dots under chin. Flattened backside.

Remarks: A medallion like this was often given as a military decoration (phalera) to soldiers for distinguished action during battle or for merit. A phalera was attached to the soldier’s breastplate to be shown during parades.
The layer of opaque white glass at the back of the phalera makes the glass appear less dense by reflecting light back out of the glass (Newby).

Provenance: Ex the David and Jennifer Giles Collection,  Sasson Ancient Art Gallery, Jerusalem, Israel.

References: Newby 1999, the Dolf Schut Collection, No. 28. , Kunz 1981, Kunstmuseum Luzern, No. 340.


Double headed Large Medusa flask of David Giles

Side 1


Description: This is a very large (15cm) double headed Medusa flask, in aubergine (manganese) colored glass. The flask was made in two-part mold with a pontil mark on the base. Date: is 3rd/4th century AD.  Parallels can be found at The Louvre Museum, Newark Museum and Miho Museum.



Remarks: In Greek mythology Medusa was a monster, generally described as a winged human female with living venomous snakes in place of hair. Gazers upon her face would be turn to stone. Early depictions of Medusa show a repugnant, winged woman with frightening traits.  Beginning in the fifth century B. C., Medusa underwent a gradual transformation from grotesque to beautiful, as she became increasingly anthropomorphic and feminine. The connection of beauty with horror, embodied in all the figure of Medusa out lived antiquity, Fascinating and inspiring artists through the centuries.  Medusa became the archetypal femme fatale, a conflation of femininity, erotic desire, violence, and death. Along with the beautiful sirens, she foreshadows the conceit of the seductive yet threatening female that emerges in the late nineteenth century.



Presently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York there is an exhibition “Dangerous Beauty: Medusa in Classical Art” The following pictures are of objects in that show. None of these objects are in glass.


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