Flask with Spout

Unknown1st century

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

At first glance, this tiny white flask, with brown stripes running around the body, may appear to be made of marble. It is in fact opaque glass, but was probably intended to mimic a stone vessel. In antiquity, feeder flasks typically served as cups to feed milk to infants, but this vessel's extremely narrow spout suggests that it was used to pour oil into oil lamps.

Toward the end of the Hellenistic period when this object was made, glass was becoming an everyday commodity. This piece would have been found in a typical middle class Roman household. Opaque glass was especially popular at this time. To achieve the white color, the glassmaker added lead to the hot glass. The addition of lead also made the glass a little softer. Once the glassmaker settled on the desired color and shape, he attached a tiny bit of hot glass to the shoulder of the vessel with a narrow rod. By pushing the rod into the vessel cavity and then pulling it away from the body, a spout would form.

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  • Title: Flask with Spout
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 1st century
  • Location Created: Eastern Mediterranean or Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: 7.8 cm (3 1/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Glass
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Object Type: Flask
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 2003.245
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 214
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Greek or Roman
  • Classification: Vessels