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Glass gem with gold foil ornament

Unknown4th century B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

Two scenes drawn from Greek mythology decorate this double-sided glass gem. On one side Nike, the goddess of victory, drives a chariot; on the other side a hippocamp, a part-horse and part-fish sea monster, swims across the gem. An artisan constructed the gem from two oval pieces of clear glass with convex outer surfaces and flat inner surfaces. He engraved the decoration on the flat surfaces and then inlaid the intaglio with gold foil. A thin ceramic plaque was then sandwiched between the two glass pieces, creating a reddish background for the gold motifs. Other similarly formed glass gems using different central materials have survived from the 300s B.C.

The central ceramic plaque was pierced, indicating that the gem was mounted as a swiveling bezel in a ring or worn as a pendant.

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Details

  • Title: Glass gem with gold foil ornament
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: 4th century B.C.
  • Location Created: South Italy (?)
  • Physical Dimensions: 2.4 x 1.9 x 0.8 cm (15/16 x 3/4 x 5/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Glass and terracotta with gold inlay
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Object Type: Gem
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 88.AN.106
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 212, Coins, Gems and Jewelry
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Greek (South Italian)
  • Classification: Jewelry

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