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Portland vase
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This vase is one of the most famous objects in the Museum as well as one of the most famous examples of cameo-glass vessel from antiquity. To make such vessels requires great skill and technical ability. This example was made by dipping the partially blown blue glass into molten white glass. The two were then blown together into the final form. After cooling, the white layer was cut away to form the design. The cutting was probably performed by a skilled gem-cutter.

The scenes decorating the vase are much debated, but seem to relate to the themes of love and marriage. The bottom of the vase probably originally ended in a point but was broken in antiquity and mended with a cameo-glass disc, showing a pensive King Priam of Troy. This has been displayed separately since 1845.
It is not known exactly where and when the vase was found. In 1778 it was purchased by Sir William Hamilton, British Ambassador at the Court of Naples.

Portland vase


Perhaps from Rome, Italy, c. AD 5-25
Ht24 cm
Purchased with the aid of a bequest from lames Rose Vallentin



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