Glass handkerchief bowl

Period: Late Imperial

Date: 3rd–4th century A.D.

Culture: Roman

Medium: Glass; blown, trailed, and tooled

Dimensions: H.: 3 5/8 in. (9.3 cm)

Classification: Glass

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.194.314


This fanciful bowl was made using a technique in which the glassworker reheated the rim after its initial forming and then quickly swung the pontil rod downward, forcing the bowl to crumple and cool. Threads of molten glass were then trailed horizontally round the body for added decoration. A pontil mark on the base of the bowl is clearly visible through the translucent colorless glass; this mark is the remnant of the glob of glass used to attach the still-hot vessel to a pontil rod while the glassmaker finished the rim and added final shaping and decorative elements. The glassmaker's creativity in fashioning this unusual form has parallels in modern glassworks, for one could easily mistake this bowl for a product of twentieth-century Venetian or Tiffany glass centers.