Beaker with Theatrical Scene, Roman Empire (probably Syria, Palestine, or Egypt), A.D. 50–100, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, gift of Hans Cohn

From the Collection: Beaker with Theatrical Scene

March 16, 2015
Linda Theung, Editor

A rare example of painted glass, this vessel, with a shadow of gilding near its rim, was made for the elite in the Roman Empire. The scene features a young man and a woman, both wearing cloaks typical of the dress of the time. They're both donning wreaths on their heads, a clue that tells us they're symposiasts (participants in a party filled with conversation, wine, and music). A faint inscription is seen between the two figures, and it most likely spelled out the dialogue between the young man and woman. While some letters of the inscription have been made out, the source of the text still remains unclear. There are, however, two theories about the subject of painting: 1) it may be a key scene from a comedy or 2) it depicts an encounter at a brothel.

Beaker with Theatrical Scene is currently on view on the third floor of the Hammer Building. Check out LACMA's Collections Online about this work.

This year marks LACMA's 50th anniversary. We're celebrating all that we've done while looking forward to what's in store for us in the next 50. Check back every week on Unframed to find a highlight of an artwork from LACMA's collection, which features over 120,000 objects that span time, the globe, and all cultures. This is 9/50 of the series. This text was developed from the description on Collections Online.