Mosaic glass inlay with half mask

Object number
Object: Mosaic glass inlay with half mask

Material: Polychrome opaque mosaic glass in blue, white, red and black.

Period: Late 1st century BC to 1st century AD.
Early Roman Imperial period.

Description:    Decorative rectangular inlay made of polychrome mosaic glass. The motif was skilfully arranged out of glass rods, then molten and cut into slices. It shows a half mask of a female face with an open mouth, eyelines in the Egyptian style and long side locks.

Background: Glass inlays were a popular decoration during the early Roman Imperial period and used in various provinces. This piece could be combined to form a full face with a turned slice cut from the same glass rod. It was very likely made in Egypt. The traditional glass workshops there must have produced significant quantities of mosaic glass for decoration purposes.

Dimensions: 21mm high, 15mm wide.

Condition: Outstanding condition, piece of highest artistic quality. A chip on one side does not disturb the overall impression because of the motif going all through the plate. Nicely patinated surface. The piece rests on a custom made acrylic glass mount.

Provenance: Acquired by us in 2020 on the British art market. Previously property of a British family. Acquired in 1983 from the Swiss private collection of Oswald Burchard.
Mr. Burchard acquired many objects from the collection of M. Hess that was auctioned by Hôtel Jura in Basel. It is likely that this glass inlay originated from the Hess collection as well. A note mentions Giorgio Sangiorgi (1886–1960) as a possible previous owner.

References: Cf. H. W. Mueller, Aegyptische Kunstwerke, Kleinfunde und Glas, p. 154, A 222 a-d.

Literature: There is a catalogue from 1914 by the dealer and collector Giorgio Sangiorgi called Collezione di vetri antichi dalle origini al V sec. D. C. It contains a good description of his collection and shows several similar mosaic glass inlays from it, but not this one.

Authenticity: We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of every artefact, all items are subject to our lifetime return policy on authenticity.