Glass situla (bucket) with silver handles

Late Classical or Early Hellenistic
late 4th–early 3rd century B.C.
Glass with silver handles; cast
Overall: 10 1/2 x 8 x 6 3/4in. (26.7 x 20.3 x 17.1cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Bernard and Audrey Aronson Charitable Trust Gift, in memory of her beloved husband, Bernard Aronson, 2000
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Translucent greenish.
    Everted, angular rim, with thick vertical outer edge; slightly convex side tapering downwards; slightly domed bottom; two handle attachments, each pierced by two horizontal holes, project outward and upward from the edge of the rim on opposite sides of the bucket; two silver handles, each cut from a flat sheet into a semicircular arched strip, end in U-shaped round rods with decorative finials that are turned upward through the holes in the handle attachments.
    The handle attachments are carved into rounded rectilinear blocks with a central upward finial with a raised outer surface, resembling a stylized palmette. On exterior, painted decoration extends from underside of rim to the bottom, comprising four main elements: at top, under rim, a continuous dog-tooth band in purplish red, with a thin line of light (Egyptian) blue below; on body, several irregular horizontal bands of small bud-like objects in shades of pinkish red, with details outlined in dark brown; on bottom, similar small objects, perhaps arranged in a rosette pattern; finally, two vertical stripes run down the sides of the bucket below the handle attachments, both are block-filled with purplish red paint, into which the lines of slender wavy tendrils have been incised freehand. Traces of gilding are visible on the stripes and elsewhere on the sides. The silver handles are fashioned into a stylized bud at the end of each rod.
    Broken and repaired from numerous small fragments, with some losses and areas of fill; a few bubbles and many internal strain cracks; slight pitting and areas of whitish iridescent weathering; the silver handles are also broken and repaired.

    The situla was used for cooling and serving wine at banquets. This one is made of almost colorless glass. It was cast and carved, and then bands of gilded and painted decoration were applied around the outside. The vessel is highly unusual in both shape and decoration, and few parallels in glass are known. It may, however, be compared with metal examples such as the bronze situla of the Prusias Find, which is displayed in the gallery for Greek art of the fourth century B.C.

  • References

    Picón, Carlos A. 2001. "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2000-2001." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 59(2): p. 10.

    Lightfoot, Christopher S. 2001. "Ancient Glass at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Two Recent Acquisitions." Annales du 15e Congrès de l'Association Internationale pour l'Histoire du Verre, Jennifer Price, ed. Nottingham: Association internationale pour l'histoire du verre, pp. 18-22, figs. 3-4.

    von Saldern, Axel. 2004. Antikes Glas. Munich: Beck, p. 144, fig. 112.

    Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 230, pp. 194, 450.

    Phipps, Elena. 2010. "Cochineal Red: The Art History of a Color." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 67(3): pp. 6, 9, fig. 7.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History