This remarkable cup depicts an episode from the legend of Lycurgus, King of the Thracians.
The Lycurgus Cup by Unknown Artist, 4th century
© British Museum
- 16.5 x 13.2 cm
- Art Fund grant:
- £2,000 ( Total: £20,000)
- Acquired in:
- Lord Rothschild
After angering the god Dionysus by driving him to the depths of the sea, Lycurgus attacked his maenads, one of whom - Ambrosia - was saved by Mother Earth, who transformed her into a vine. The scene shows Lycurgus struggling to escape from her clinging tendrils. Tiny amounts of colloidal gold and silver in the glass give it unusual properties; it appears opaque and pea-green in reflected light, but it becomes deep wine red if held up to the light. It was probably originally used as a lamp. It is the sole complete surviving example of this type of glass, technically known as dichroic.
Rothschild family; J.J. Dubois.