Mosaic plaques of an Apis, or sacred bull of Memphis

Fused mosaic plaque: ancient Egyptian motif-Figure of an Apis or sacred bull of Memphis on a pedestal with floral decoration.

Historical period(s)
Ptolemaic Dynasty to Roman Period, 100 BCE-100 CE
H x W x D: 3.5 x 2.7 x 2.3 cm (1 3/8 x 1 1/16 x 7/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 20: A Collector’s Eye: Freer in Egypt

Mosaic plaque

bull, Egypt, flower, Ptolemaic Dynasty (305 - 30 BCE), Roman Period (30 BCE - 395 CE)

To 1909
Giovanni Dattari (circa 1858-1923), Cairo, Egypt, to 1909 [1]

From 1909 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Giovanni Dattari in 1909 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See S.I. 189, Miscellaneous List, Egyptian Glass, pgs. 1 and 17, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. This piece is part of a collection of glass that was purchased en bloc and includes 1,388 specimens (for further purchase information, see the folder for F1909.332).

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Giovanni Dattari (C.L. Freer source) 1858-1923


Fused mosaic plaque: ancient Egyptian motif-Figure of an Apis or sacred bull of Memphis on a pedestal with floral decoration.


From the New Kingdom (1550-1070 B.C.E.)onward, Egyptian artisans used glass to fashion small objects such as jewelry, amulets, and miniatures. They also combined glass with other materials, often metal or wood. Colored glass inlays formed in molds adorned a variety of objects, including jewelry, furniture, and coffins. From the New Kingdom through the Roman period (30 B.C.E.-395 C.E.), for example, the eyes and brows of faces on coffins made from wood, plaster, and other materials were often inlaid in glass. 

Inlays could also be made from mosaic glass, in which long rods of colored glass were heated and fused to create a multicolored image or design. The resulting cane (or mosaic cane) was then cut into a number of sections, each bearing the same design, to form vessels or other objects.

Published References
  • Robert K. Liu. Roman Mosaic: Face Plaques and Beads. vol. 31, no. 5 Los Angeles, July 2008. .
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Ancient Glass in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington, 1962. p. 19, fig. 53.
  • Ann C. Gunter. A Collector's Journey: Charles Lang Freer and Egypt. Washington and London, 2002. p. 110, fig. 4.16.
  • Susan H. Auth. Ancient Egyptian Glass from the Dattari Collection. vol. 118, no. 258 London, August 1983. pp. 160-163, fig. 7.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Egyptian Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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