Plaque in cameo glass : satyr holding out a bunch of grapes to the child Dionysus
Date: 1st half of the 1st century AD
Production place: Italy
Materials and technics: Three layers of superimposed glass (white, blue and white)
Dimensions: H. 21 x w. 19 cm
Inventory number: ADUT240
Acquisition details: Dutuit bequest, 1902
The Dutuit Plaque was created using a glass-making technique similar to that used for cameos. This technique is only familiar on account of some twenty or so objects, vases and panels, of which the Portland Vase in the British Museum is the most famous example.
This plaque is decorated with a Dionysian scene. In a rural countryside setting, a young satyr, sat on a rock, is holding out a bunch of grapes to the child Dionysus. Dionysian themes were extremely popular in the decorative arts of the era of Augustus.
The Dutuit Plaque is closest in style to the Portland Vase in the British Museum, dating from the Augustan period. However, in the landscapes on the other cameo glass items, the rocks have a more architectural character. The young satyr’s rustic seat has its equivalent only in decorative reliefs or in cameos such as the Naples cameo.
The theme of the child Dionysus, raised by nymphs, playing with satyrs on the hill of Nysa, the rocky seat of the young satyr and the taste for nature expressed here, recall the Greek creations in the 4th century BC of Praxiteles, the creator of the Hermes and Dionysus of Olympus, or Lysippus, an artist whose work took him to the court of Macedonia, to Alexandria and to Sicily. His Dionysus on Helicon from Thespies was sat on a rock, with his left leg tucked under him, heel uppermost and his right leg extended. In his left hand was a thyrsus (staff) and in his right hand possibly a bunch of grapes.
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