The Gold Sandwich-Glass Vase at the Canellopoulos Museum in Athens is a truly rare and precious exhibit. Also referred to as Verre Églomisé, Gold Sandwich-Glass is a decorative technique with a rich history dating back to antiquity, used to craft stunning and opulent objects. The example on display at the Canellopoulos Museum stands as a unique treasure in Greece, inviting keen exploration and admiration!
Displayed at the Canellopoulos Museum in Athens, Greece, this remarkable piece is organized within a tondo, defined by concentric rings, and embellished with gold leaf in the space between the innermost pair. The composition takes on a triangular form, exhibiting simplicity, stability, and balance. Positioned at the very center of the tondo is a male figure, devoid of a beard but adorned with a luminous halo. In his lowered right hand, he clasps a palm branch, a Christian symbol of victory over death, while his left hand extends upward in a gesture of acclamation. The figure, portrayed in a strikingly naturalistic manner, stands upright and is flanked by laurel bushes on either side. The combination of brown hues and gold against a background of transparent glass creates an aethereal, and delicate composition, suitable for a religious shallow bowl (phiale).
According to Constantine Scampavias, the Canellopoulos Museum expert… Although the piece is not inscribed, the halo and the palm branch (as well as the two bushes if they are laurels) identify the figure as a Christian martyr. Perhaps it is the martyr Gereon, whose cult was widespread in the Rhineland and particularly in Cologne, where this bowl was possibly made.https://camu.gr/en/item/pythmenas-amfyalou-chrysografimenou-angeiou/
The Gold Sandwich-Glass technique was particularly popular throughout the Roman Empire during the 4th century AD. Images in this technique were etched in gold leaf and then, the leaf was fused between two layers of glass… like a sandwich! Items of Gold Glass were usually created into circular bottoms of luxurious drinking vessels since the Hellenistic period. A popular practice for the Romans of the later period, was to cut out the Gold Glass decorated roundel of a cup and cemented it to the wall of a catacomb Grave to serve as a grave marker for the small recesses where bodies were buried. In Rome, where this practice was particularly popular, archaeologists discovered over 500 pieces of Gold Glass used in this way. Decoration themes for Gold Sandwich-Glass items vary from pagan mythology and portraits to purely Jewish or Christian imagery. Chapter 13 Making Late Antique Gold Glass by Daniel Thomas Howells, pp.112-120https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20190801105206/https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/publications/research_publications_series.aspx#AllResearchPublications
For a PowerPoint on 10 artifacts of Gold Sandwich-Grass, please… Check HERE!
Neck rings, such as the imposing goldPectoral with Coins and Pseudo-Medallion in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, are cited in early sources as playing a role both in the glorification of military heroes and in coronation ceremonies. They were popular during the Late Roman period and continued well into the Early Byzantine era. Also known as Byzantine Imperial Collars or Byzantine Imperial Torcs, ornate necklaces like the MET example, were worn by members of the Byzantine imperial family and high-ranking officials during the Byzantine Empire (330-1453 AD). These neck rings were made of gold and decorated with medallions, coins, and intricate designs, often featuring Christian symbols. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/464070
The Metropolitan Museum pectoral necklace is composed of a plain, hollow neck ring attached to a frame set with a large central medallion flanked by coins, and two small decorative disks. The central medallion, encased by beaded wire, presents an unidentified Emperor in military attire on the obverse, and the enthroned personification of Constantinople on the reverse. Fourteen coins of Byzantine Emperors reigning during the fifth to the sixth centuries, are placed symmetrically, left, and right of the central medallion. The coins are surrounded by beaded wire as well. Crosses in niello, an interesting reference to Christianity, decorate the two small disks on either side of the medallion. The space between the coins and the medallion is filled with small rosettes and larger trefoils. The two ribbed rings at the pectoral’s lower edge once held a large medallion of the emperor Theodosius I (in the Collection of the Freer Gallery of Art). https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/464070 and https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Age_of_Spirituality_Late_Antique_and_Early_Christian_Art_Third_to_Seventh_Century Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, page 318-319
This amazing necklace was part of a hoard of thirty-four pieces of gold jewelry said to have been found at the turn of the twentieth century, possibly at ancient Lycopolis (modern Assiut) or Antinoöpolis (modern Sheikh Ibada), both in central Egypt. The circumstances of the hoard’s discovery remain obscure as the treasure was illegally excavated. The high quality of each piece links the treasure jewels to the imperial workshops in Constantinople. The hoard is now divided among the Metropolitan Museum; the British Museum, London; the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and the Staatliche Museen-Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin.Whether the pieces were indeed discovered together or were assembled from different sites, they represent the standard of luxury among the elite in Egypt under Byzantine rule and attest to the close connection between the wealthy province and the capital Constantinople.https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/The_Arts_of_Byzantium_The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art_Bulletin_v_58_no_4_Spring_2001“The Arts of Byzantium”: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 58, no. 4 (Spring, 2001), Page 19 and “Into the hands of a well-known antiquary of Cairo”: The Assiut Treasure and the Making of an Archaeological Hoard by Elizabeth Dospěl Williams, West 86th: A Journal of Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture, Vol. 21, No. 2 (Fall-Winter 2014), pp. 251-272 https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/679985?read-now=1#page_scan_tab_contents
The Byzantine Imperial Neck Rings were not just a fashion accessory, they were a symbol of power and authority. The imperial family, for example, wore them on important occasions, such as coronations, to demonstrate their wealth and status. Members of the Byzantine military elite, on the other hand, wore them as trophies of their military distinction. According to Procopius, soldiers were rewarded with money, and honoured with precious necklaces or bracelets. It is interesting to note that during the Early Byzantine period, men and women wore such necklaces alike. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Age_of_Spirituality_Late_Antique_and_Early_Christian_Art_Third_to_Seventh_Century Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century, edited by Kurt Weitzmann, 1979, page 318-319
For a PowerPoint on the so-called Assiut Treasure, please… Check HERE!
Devant une tribune, write the Cluny Museum Experts, paré de ses insignes, Areobindus est entouré d’assesseurs. La main droite levée, il lance les jeux avec la “mappa”, sorte de linge qui servait à signaler le début des jeux du cirque. En dessous sont représentés ces jeux : des gladiateurs combattent des animaux sauvages. On the 10th of May, 2023, I was in Paris, at the Cluny Museum, paying my respects to Consul Areobindus Dagalaifus Areobindus. It was a moment I will always cherish! https://www.musee-moyenage.fr/collection/oeuvre/diptyque-du-consul-areobindus.html
Let’s answer some questions starting with Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How…
What do we know about Late Roman / Early Byzantine Consular Diptychs? They were a form of ceremonial and commemorative artwork that originated in the late Roman Empire. They were created in the form of hinged wooden panels, often covered in ivory or other valuable materials. Consular diptychs typically consisted of two panels, known as leaves, which were decorated with relief carvings and inscriptions. These diptychs were presented as gifts to friends and supporters, by newly appointed consuls, who were the highest-ranking officials in the Roman Empire. They served as a record and celebration of their consulship. The inscriptions on the diptychs included the consul’s name, the names of the emperor or emperors in office during their consulship, and sometimes additional details such as the consul’s accomplishments or notable events from their term.
What do Consular Diptychs usually feature as their decoration? They often featured intricate and detailed relief carvings depicting various scenes, including mythological figures, military victories, and allegorical representations of virtues. These carvings were highly symbolic and conveyed messages of power, prestige, and legitimacy. Many consular diptychs have been lost or damaged. However, a number of surviving examples provide valuable insights into the art, culture, and political context of the late Roman / Early Byzantine Empire. They are significant historical artifacts that shed light on the individuals who held the highest offices in the Roman / Byzantine state.
Who was Consul Areobindus? Areobindus Dagalaifus Areobindus was a high-ranking Byzantine official and military leader during the reign of Emperor Anastasius I Dicorus (c. 431 – 518) in the 6th century AD. Areobindus was a scion of an extremely distinguished family of Roman and Alanic-Gothic heritage. He was married to Anicia Juliana, the daughter of Olybrius, briefly the western Roman Emperor in 472, and his wife Placidia, thus, connecting Areobindus to the Theodosian dynasty. Along with his wife, considered to be the most aristocratic and the wealthiest inhabitant of Constantinople, Aerobindus spent a life of military and administrative distinction. In 506 AD, he served as consul of the Byzantine Empire. The consular office, though it had lost its administrative functions by this time, was still an important honorific title. The period of Areobindus’s consulship corresponded with the early period of Byzantine history, which was characterized by frequent wars with Sassanid Persia, the Germanic tribes, and other neighbors, as well as a flowering of Greek and Roman art and culture.
When was the Consular Diptych of Areobindus created? It was created in 506 AD, in Constantinople, when Areobindus was elected Consul of the Eastern Roman / Byzantine Empire.
How can the composition of Areobindus’s Diptych be described? Areobindus’s Consular Diptych is one of the best preserved and most intricately designed examples of Byzantine Consular Diptychs. Under the inscription C[omite] SAC[ri] STA[buli] ET M[agister] M[ilitum] P[er] OR[ientum] EX C[onsule] C[onsul] OR[dinarius] the artist of the Diptych presents Areobindus, in strict frontality, dressed in consular robes and holding the traditional symbols of the consul’s office, including a mappa circensis (a handkerchief with which the Consul gave the signal for the games to commence) and an elaborate scepter. Flanked by two of his assistants, the Consul is depicted presiding over the circus games sitting on a luxurious chair with curved legs and no back. The quality of the carving and the level of detail in this scene attest to the skill of the artist and the luxury of the object.
The lower part of the described Diptych depicts scenes of circus games, typically referred to as the venationes. These were staged hunts or fights involving wild animals, a popular form of public entertainment, at the time, alongside chariot races and gladiatorial combats. The venationes depicted in the Areobindus Diptych, showcase a range of exotic and dangerous animals, symbolizing both the consul’s power and the grand spectacle of the games themselves. It is a surprising, delightful scene. The artist exhibits originality, energy, and an unexpected variety of poses and gestures.
Why is the Consular Diptych of Areobindus significant? Simply put, it serves as an exceptional example of Early Byzantine artistry and craftsmanship. Its intricate relief carving depicts an important historical figure of the time, providing valuable insights into the iconography and symbolism of the era. It also serves as a tangible connection to the tradition of Consular Diptychs, which were presented as gifts to high-ranking officials or distributed during official ceremonies. It exemplifies the use of art and objects as a means of political communication and the display of status and authority during the Early Byzantine period.
Where is the Consular Diptych of Areobindus currently located? The Consular Diptych of Areobindus is an invaluable resource for historians studying the Byzantine Empire and the broader late antique period. It is an artifact that connects us directly with the people, events, and cultures of the past. It is part of the Louvre Museum Collection, but it is exhibited in the Cluny Museum, also known as the Musée National du Moyen Age, in Paris.
How can the Cluny Museum best be described? The Musée de Cluny, also known as the Musée National du Moyen Age, or the National Museum of the Middle Ages, is located in Paris, France. It is housed in two significant historic buildings: the 15th-century Hôtel de Cluny and the Gallo-Roman thermal baths dating back to the 3rd century. The museum is renowned for its extensive collection of medieval artifacts, including tapestries, sculptures, manuscripts, and metalwork. Its most famous work is arguably the “The Lady and the Unicorn” series of tapestries, a masterpiece of the late Middle Ages.
The architecture of the museum itself is notable. The Hôtel de Cluny is a fine example of late medieval secular architecture, with its Gothic-style features and well-preserved rooms. The adjacent thermal baths showcase the grandeur of Roman architecture and provide an interesting contrast. The museum is also known for its medieval-inspired gardens. These gardens are designed based on medieval texts and archaeological research and serve as a quiet oasis in the bustling city of Paris. As a whole, the museum provides a unique experience for visitors to immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of the Middle Ages, serving as a testament to the creativity, skill, and artistry of the period.
For a PowerPoint inspired by the Consul Areobindus Dagalaifus Areobindus BLOG POST, please… Check, HERE!
Late Antique poetry has often been characterized by its ‘jeweled style,’ in which authors mobilized ornament, variety, and tessellation for the purposes of visual splendor and immediacy. Jewels, and treasure more broadly, also serve as particularly effective metonyms for power. And historians frequently describe the programmatic effort to bolster dynastic power over the course of the fourth century as a ‘dynastic imperative.’ Is The Enkolpion of Empress Maria in the collection of the Louvre an example of Imperious Power? Worn around the neck of Empress Maria, was this unique Enkolpion an integral part of the sustained program of dynasty building in the tumultuous years following the death of Emperor Theodosius I? https://www.doaks.org/events/byzantine-studies/2022-2023/dynastic-jewels-a-late-antique-rhetoric-of-treasure-and-adornment
Empress Maria’s Enkolpion is a small piece of jewelry, 1.3 x 1.8 cm in size, and round in shape. It is a flat receptacle of earth grains probably from the Holy Land, smelling, at the time of its discovery, of musk. The two white and russet orange agate cameos it is made of are attached back to back by a band of gold adorned with emeralds and rubies. How splendid can it be! It can… if you consider the cameos’ simple, yet ‘powerful’ decoration.
Maria’s Enkolpion, suggested to be a wedding gift, is a family heirloom! Stelicho, for example, of Vandal origin, was a powerful military commander in the Roman army. Married to Serena, the niece of emperor Theodosius I, and guardian for the underage Emperor Honorius, Stelicho was the father of Maria, Emperor Honorius’s first wife, Thermantia, the young Emperor’s second wife, and Eucherius. If this isn’t a ‘dynastic imperative’ then what can it be?
The Enkolpion was found in February 1544, in Rome, in a sarcophagus in what was once the Mausoleum of Emperor Honorius, later, during the 8th century, converted into the Chapel of Saint Petronilla. The Mausoleum was built next to the Vatican Rotunda, another round structure on Vatican Hill, beside Old Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The Mausoleum was used as the resting place for members of the Theodosian Imperial family. The first to be buried was Augusta Maria, the first wife of Honorius, who died young, before 408. Honorius, the first emperor of the Theodosian dynasty was also entombed there in 424. The Mausoleum was used as a resting place for Honorius’s second wife Thermantia, and probably, Honorius’s sister, Augusta Galla Placidia, her husband Augustus Constantius III, and her sons Theodosius and Valentinian III. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mausoleum_of_Honorius
For a Student Activity, inspired by The Enkolpion of Empress Maria, please… Check HERE!
St. Ambrose describes her, Aelia Flacilla, wife of emperor Theodosius I, as “a soul true to God” (Fidelis anima Deo. – “De obitu Theodosii”, n. 40, in P. L., XVI, 1462). In his panegyric, St. Gregory of Nyssa bestowed the highest praise on her virtuous life and pictured her as the helpmate of the emperor in all good works, an ornament of the empire, a leader of justice, an image of beneficence. He praises her as filled with zeal for the Faith, as a pillar of the Church, and as a mother of the indigent. Theodoret in particular exalts her charity and benevolence (Hist. Eccles., V, xix, ed. Valesius, III, 192 sq.). He tells us how she personally tended cripples and quotes a saying of hers: “To distribute money belongs to the imperial dignity, but I offer up for the imperial dignity itself personal service to the Giver.” Could the Pendant with the Bust of an Empress in the Getty Collection depict this extraordinary Early Christian Empress? https://www.ecatholic2000.com/cathopedia/vol6/volsix114.shtml
Let’s answer some questions.
When did the Getty Museum acquire the Pendant with the Bust of an Empress? Yes, we do… Barbara Deppert-Lippitz, a most reputable expert archaeologist in ancient gold, contributed an article, titled A Group o f Late Antique Jewelry in the Getty Museum (pages 107-140) in Studia Varia from the J. Paul Getty Museum: Volume 1 (OPA 8), 1993. Let me quote… The majority of Late Roman and Early Byzantine jewelry that we do have has no known provenance and is undated. Our knowledge of jewelry of the period is based mainly on a few larger hoards with recorded find spots but without any external evidence for dating. It is therefore fortunate that in 1983 the Getty Museum was able to acquire a group of fifteen pieces of jewelry buried around A.D . 400. https://www.getty.edu/publications/virtuallibrary/0892362030.html page 107
Where were the Late Antique pieces of jewelry, including the Pendant with Empress, found? We do not exactly know… but according to Barbara Deppert-Lippitz… As all pieces had a similar patina, it need not be doubted that the group was, indeed, found together. They are all in very good condition, except for missing pearls on some items. Nothing is known about the previous history of this hoard, but no treasure corresponding to the present one is recorded as having been excavated anywhere during this century There are, however, certain indications that the hoard must have come from the eastern part of the Roman Empire. Further interesting observations point out that… The Getty hoard belongs among the well-known treasures from the Hill of Saint Louis in Carthage, Tunisia, and from Ténès in Algeria, both now generally agreed to belong to the period around A.D . 400, and the one from Thetford at Gallows Hill, near Thetfordin Norfolk, dated to the late fourth century A.D. All these hoards are dated on a purely stylistic basis, with no external evidence. https://www.getty.edu/publications/virtuallibrary/0892362030.html page 107, and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carthage_Treasure and https://www.persee.fr/doc/rbph_0035-0818_1960_num_38_1_2309_t1_0098_0000_2 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thetford_Hoard
How can you describe the Pendant with the Bust of an Empress? This is actually a necklace consisting of a chain and a circular medallion. The gold ropelike multiple loop-in-loop chain shows remarkable workmanship. It ends with a hook-and-eye clasp, decorated with openwork circlets as well as filigree and granulation. The medallion-shaped pendant displays a frontal female bust flanked by two Victory Goddesses holding wreaths. A circular outer band, with inset garnets, and blue and green glass beads, serving as a frame to the repoussé medallion, was a rather primitive later addition to the original jewel. Three chain pendants and two strong rings attached to either side of the medallion were also added later. Today, only one pendant chain remains attached to the outer frame, holds an emerald, and terminates in a decorative scroll ornament. https://www.getty.edu/publications/virtuallibrary/0892362030.html pages 109-111.
Who is the depicted woman? It most probably is Aelia Flacilla, the first wife of Emperor Theodosius I. According to Barbara Deppert-Lippitz… a small but significant detail, the diadem, the Empress wears, offers valuable information. Based on numismatic evidence, similar diadems have been worn only by the empresses Aelia Flacilla, wife of Theodosius I, whose coinage commenced in A.D . 383 and who died in 386, and by her daughter-in-law Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius (A.D . 383-408). This narrows the chronological range of the medallion pendant to the last two decades of the fourth century A.D. The differences between the coin portraits of Flacilla and of Eudoxia are marginal. However, the oval face with a short straight nose, small mouth with thick lips, and energetic chin seem to be closer to the portrait on certain issues of Flacilla than to that of Eudoxia. https://www.getty.edu/publications/virtuallibrary/0892362030.html page 110
A flabellum (plural flabella), in Christian liturgical use, is a fan, made of metal, leather, silk, parchment, or feathers, intended to keep away insects from the consecrated Body and Blood of Christ and from the priest, as well as to show honour. The Apostolic Constitutions, a work of the fourth century, state (VIII, 12): “Let two of the deacons, on each side of the altar, hold a fan, made up of thin membranes, or of the feathers of the peacock, or of fine cloth, and let them silently drive away the small animals that fly about, that they may not come near to the cups.”. The 6th century Silver Flabellum in the Collection of the Dumbarton Oaks is not only liturgical but a work of great art as well! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flabellum
The Bliss-Tyler Correspondence, always fascinating, provides two references to the purchase of the Silver Flabellum/ Rhipidion (in Greek)/Fan of the Dumbarton Oaks Collection by Robert Woods Bliss in 1936, in Paris, France. The first reference is made in a letter dated February 1, 1936… I’m much excited about your recent acquisitions. Hurrah for the Drey cross! And for the Rhipidion (fan). And I’m prepared to enthuse about the pyx when I see it or a photo. The second reference is dated March 6, 1936… The rhipidion (flabellum) is certainly early VIe cent. The hallmarks make that certain, and the style is perfectly consistent. https://www.doaks.org/resources/bliss-tyler-correspondence/letters/01feb1936 and https://www.doaks.org/resources/bliss-tyler-correspondence/letters/06mar1936
During the turbulent years (7th century) of the Sasanian and then the Arab invasions of Syria, devoted Christians buried a precious collection of liturgical vessels for safekeeping, hoping they will be able to reclaim them when peace would have prevailed. The silver Rhipidion, along with an amazing Paten and a Chalice, all three of them in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection today, were discovered at Riha, a small village south of Aleppo in central Syria. It has been written by Stephen Zwirn of the Dumbarton Oaks, that the Riha Treasure along with silver treasures from nearby Stuma, Hama, and Antioch were discovered at about the same time, and it has been suggested that these hoards actually constituted one large group brought together for protective burial, which was divided into smaller sets after it was unearthed early in the twentieth century. The original owners never came back to retrieve their treasures… and thus, many centuries later, they ended up in different Museums and private collections around the world! http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/27007http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/27007 and https://www.doaks.org/resources/bliss-tyler-correspondence/annotations/silver-treasure
The Riha chalice, paten, and fan were each impressed, writes Stephen Zwirn, with stamps that indicate the emperor’s reign during which they were made. The chalice was fabricated during the reign of Justinian I (527–65), while the paten and fan belong to the reign of his successor, Justin II (565–78)… They form a set for use in the Orthodox Eucharist, or Communion: the paten held the leavened bread, still a tradition in Orthodox worship, the chalice contained the wine, and the fan was used to keep insects away from the bread and the wine. It has been suggested that they were produced in Constantinople and purchased by Megalos and Nonnous, a couple named in the inscription of the paten, for presentation to a church in Syria soon after 577. http://museum.doaks.org/objects-1/info/27007 and file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Byzantium/Age_of_Spirituality_Late_Antique_and_Early_Christian_Art_Third_to_Seventh_Century.pdf pages 617-18
The silver Flabellun/Rhipidion/Fan in the Dumbarton Oaks is engraved with sixteen peacock feathers around its scalloped rim. On its central disk, the 6th-century silversmith, engraved a tetramorph cherubim, the four-winged creature described in Ezekiel 1:4–21. The same tetramorph has been, summarily, engraved on the reverse side as well. The luxury of all liturgical vessels discovered in Syria indicates the splendor of the Early Christian Church Service, and the magnificent silver Rhipidion in particular, the ceremonial status altar fan had during the Orthodox Eucharist or Communion Service. file:///C:/Users/aspil/OneDrive/Blog/Byzantium/Age_of_Spirituality_Late_Antique_and_Early_Christian_Art_Third_to_Seventh_Century.pdf pages 617-18
For a Student Activity inspired by the Silver Flabellum in the Collection of the Dumbarton Oaks, please… Check HERE!
 I begin to sing of ivy-crowned Dionysus, the loud-crying god, splendid son of Zeus and glorious Semele. The rich-haired Nymphs received him in their bosoms from the lord his father and fostered and nurtured him carefully  in the dells of Nysa, where by the will of his father he grew up in a sweet-smelling cave, being reckoned among the immortals. But when the goddesses had brought him up, a god oft hymned, then began he to wander continually through the woody coombes, thickly wreathed with ivy and laurel. And the Nymphs followed in his train  with him for their leader; and the boundless forest was filled with their outcry. / And so hail to you, Dionysus, god of abundant clusters! Grant that we may come again rejoicing to this season, and from that season onwards for many a year. The Homeric Hymns 26 on Dionysus is, I believe, a wonderful introduction to The astonishing Tapestry of Dionysus at Abegg-Stiftung, my new BLOG POST… Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White. Homeric Hymns. Cambridge, MA, 1914, Harvard University Press, https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0138%3Ahymn%3D26
Regretfully, I never visited the Abegg-Stiftung, this amazing “cultural” center where the collection, conservation and study of historical textiles take place. Abegg-Stiftung is based just outside the village of Riggisberg in the foothills of the Bernese Alps, which is where the museum of textiles and applied art, the research library and the Villa Abegg, the Abeggs’ former home that is now a museum, are situated. The studio for textile conservation and restoration is also a training centre for budding young conservators. The Abegg-Stiftung publishes books and papers in which it shares its research findings with fellow historians and conservators as well as a lay readership. Year after year, its annual exhibitions shed new light on a material that has served humanity for thousands of years, whether made up into objects of everyday use or in the form of exquisite works of art. What an amazing place to visit and learn! https://abegg-stiftung.ch/en/
Among their rich collection of textiles from Late Antiquity, the visitor is astounded by grand and small examples showing figures from Graeco-Roman mythology and scenes from the Old Testament. What really fascinates me is the “Dionysus Hanging,” a monumental tapestry originally that served as a wall hanging in a Roman private home or cult building. The tapestry’s programme shows Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and ecstasy, and his entourage standing underneath arcades lavishly decked out in climbing foliage and braided ornaments. The cult of Dionysos was widespread in Late Antiquity. It promised its adherents life after death and was an articulation of the desire for a life of happiness and superfluity. https://abegg-stiftung.ch/en/collection/late-antiquity/
An Abegg-Stiftung much-appreciated traditionis its dedication in publishing books and papers in which their experts share their research findings with fellow historians and conservators as well as a lay readership. Among the Museum’s rich List of Publications (for German readers) is a book titled Der Dionysosbehang der Abegg-Stiftung by Dietrich Willers und Bettina Niekamp, Riggisberger Berichte 20 | 272 S., 200 Abb., 32 Tafeln, 1 Falttafel, brosch., 23 x 31 cm, 2015, ISBN 978-3-905014-53-2 https://abegg-stiftung.ch/en/publication-category/riggisberger-berichte-en/
Preparing for this BLOG POST I reread pp. 35-38 of Textiles of Late Antiquity, a 1995 Metropolitan Museum of Art Publication, and Woven Interiors: Furnishing Early Medieval Egypt, an Exhibition Catalogue of 2020, organized by the George Washington University Museum, The Textile Museum, and Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. https://museum.gwu.edu/woven-interiors-furnishing-early-medieval-egypt
For a Student Activity on The astonishing Tapestry of Dionysus at Abegg-Stiftung, please… Check HERE!
I have always said and felt that true enjoyment can not be described… said Jean Jacques Rousseau… but at the vestibule of the Dumbarton Oaks Museum, Enjoyment has a face… the Floor Mosaic with Apolausis the personification of Enjoyment welcomes visitors since its doors opened to the public in 1941and I can not think of a better way to welcome you to the New Year! May 2022 be a Year of pure Enjoyment! https://www.stresslesscountry.com/enjoyment-quotes/
Antioch on the Orontes, the modern-day city of Antakya in Turkey, was founded near the end of the fourth century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great’s generals and successors to his Empire. It flourished and prospered, rivaling even the city of Alexandria in Egypt, as the capital of the Seleucid Empire until 63 BC, when the Romans took control in Syria. Called the cradle of Christianity, Antioch, a great military, and economic metropolis with a population of about 250,000 people became the hub of both Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianity. The city’s decline started during the Byzantine–Sassanid War of 602–628 and continued during the Umayyad period as Antioch found itself on the frontline of the conflicts between two hostile empires, the Byzantine, and the rising realm of the Arabs. In 1268 the Baibars (Mamluks of Egypt), besieged Antioch, capturing the city on May 18, marking, thus, the end of its history. https://vrc.princeton.edu/archives/collections/show/7 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antioch
To Celebrate the New Year with your Kindergarten – Early Elementary School students… do a HAND-FAN Activity. Create simple, paper HAND-FANS and decorate them with Synonyms to ENJOYMENT! Add a beautiful coloured ribbon and… Voila!!!
For the Student Activity Worksheet, please Check HERE!
Once more, inspiration comes from the Exhibition The Good Life: Collecting Late Antique Art at The Met (May 24, 20221-May 7, 2023) that showcases the Museum’s important and rare collection of third- to eighth-century art from Egypt and reevaluates it through the lens of late antique ideas about abundance, virtue, and shared classical taste. Writers and craftspeople translated these ideas into a concept celebrated as “the good life.” A Hanging Fragment with Bird and Basket helped me explore the idea of The Good Life… how it is connected to social status, wealth, and living well in Late antiquity, and how it reflects the extraordinary values and lifestyle of the upper classes in the world of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2021/good-life-collecting-late-antique-art and https://www.teachercurator.com/uncategorized/portrait-medallion-of-gennadios/
I like how the 2020 Exhibition, Woven Interiors: Furnishing Early Medieval Egypt, introduces the role intricate textiles played… during the early medieval era, when the eastern Mediterranean’s palaces, villas, and sacred spaces were richly decorated with hangings, curtains, and other luxury fabrics. These beautiful and rare examples of artworks dating from the 4th to the 10th centuries, demonstrate for us today, how textiles defined spaces and moved ornamental motifs between cultures, over time, and across media. They show us, as well, how the large-format hangings, covers, and other, smaller in size, fabrics were often the most valuable possessions of any household at the time. They served, according to the experts, critical physical and social functions alongside more permanent architectural forms. In addition to revealing textiles’ importance and use, the Exhibition Woven Interiors also documented continuities and changes in weaving and aesthetics. In so few words, I was hooked to learn more… https://museum.gwu.edu/woven-interiors-furnishing-early-medieval-egypt
Hanging Fragment with Bird and Basket in the Metropolitan Museum Collection of Textiles is a precious piece of artistic handicraft that immediately caught my attention. The rich coulours, subtle gradients of reds for the background, blues and beiges for the bird, and warm greens for the decorative bands, create a composition, however, fragmented it is, that immediately draws the viewer’s attention to the blue bird maybe a sparrow, picking at a basket of grapes. The skillful weaver not only created a masterful colour palette but using thin parallel lines managed to enliven the small bird who seems to quiver and quake with enthusiasm in front of its basket of treats …in a style typical of the figural naturalism of the late Greco-Roman period. According to the Museum experts, the textile under focus was …originally part of a series of decorated bands composing a wall hanging or curtain, …probably used in a domestic setting. The MET textile, thought to have been woven at Herakleia in Anatolia, shows evidence of the importation of exceptional fabrics into Egypt.
For a Student Activity inspired by the Hanging Fragment with Bird and Basket in the MET, please… Click HERE!
Will we meet again? He is waiting in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York… musically accomplished, all ‘chiseled’ up… and I have to face COVID traveling restrictions, a long trip, and a rather bad knee… He is Gennadios, a young man from Alexandria whose portrait is simply fabulous… one of my favourite works of Art in the world! Our story goes back to 1977 when, as a University student I visited, for the first time ever New York City, I marveled at the ‘Age of Spirituality’ Exhibition, and I set my amazed eyes on his Portrait Medallion…the rest is part of my life story. Ever since, and every time I visit New York I simply have to see him… These days, the Portrait Medallion of Gennadios, a fine example of Alexandrian ‘Good Life,’ welcomes MetropolitanMuseum visitors to ‘The Good Life: Collecting Late Antique Art at The Met’ Exhibition (May 24, 2021–May 7, 2023)… It’s an invitation I somehow have to meet…https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2021/good-life-collecting-late-antique-art
Worked in gold on sapphire-blue glass… to be specific, the drawing of Gennadios’s face was scratched with a fine point on gold leaf applied to the surface of a thin layer of glass… the Metropolitan Museum Medallion is a masterpiece of portraiture on a small scale. There is a group of similar jewel-like glass medallion portraits exhibited in museums around the world, but none is so exquisitely engraved. Scholars believe a lot of these Medallions come from Alexandria where a tradition in gold glass portraiture, like that of Gennadios’s, was active and popular. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Autumn 1977, page 46 file:///C:/Users/aspil/Downloads/The_Late_Roman_World_The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art_Bulletin_v_35_no_2_Fall_1977.pdf
The Gold Glass technique was particularly popular throughout the Roman Empire during the 4th century AD. Images in this technique were etched in gold leaf and then, the leaf was fused between two layers of glass… like a sandwich! Items of Gold Glass were usually created into circular bottoms of luxurious drinking vessels since the Hellenistic period. A popular practice for the Romans of the later period was to cut out the Gold Glass decorated roundel of a cup and cement it to the wall of a catacomb Grave to serve as a grave marker for the small recesses where bodies were buried. In Rome, where this practice was particularly popular, archaeologists discovered over 500 pieces of Gold Glass used in this way. Decoration themes for Gold Glass items vary from pagan mythology and portraits to purely Jewish or Christian imagery. Chapter 13 Making Late Antique Gold Glass by Daniel Thomas Howells, pp.112-120 https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20190801105206/https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/publications/research_publications_series.aspx#AllResearchPublications