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Friday 21 June 2024

automatic translation

Friday 21 June 2024

automatic translation

    The pursuit of happiness carved in glass: the Autun diatreta cup

    “All men are created equal; they are endowed by the Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these rights are Life, Freedom and pursuit of Happiness”. These short and very powerful lines are engraved in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, promulgated on 4 July 1776, and establish an inviolable right, guaranteed at a constitutional level: happiness.
    A statement that is certainly revolutionary in law, but not in its statute quête permanent of the human soul.

    The treasure of the sarcophagus

    The continuity of this inner research is confirmed by a find recently brought to light byInrap (Institut national de recherches archéologiques préventives), in the excavations of the necropolis of the church of Saint-Pierre-l'Estrier, in Autun, France. 
    A stone sarcophagus has in fact returned to archaeologists a diatreta cup, dating back to the 4th century AD, extremely fragmented, but complete. The skilled intervention of the restorers of the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz has in fact made it possible to restore the artefact to its former glory. 

    The protagonist of the exhibition

    The diatreta cup is now on display at the Musée Archéologique National de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in the department of Yvelines, on the occasion of the exhibition “D'un monde à l'autre” (From one world to another). This exhibition intends to investigate the enigmatic historical period that heralds the fall of the Western Roman Empire and, with it, the beginning of the medieval age. 

    What is a Diatreta Cup?

    The different editions of Milan Glass Week they allowed us to admire a cup not dissimilar to the one discovered in Autun: the marvelous one diatreta Trivulzio (also dating back to the 4th century AD), preserved in the Civic Archaeological Museum of Milan. 
    The diatrete cups spread between the mid-3rd and mid-4th centuries AD as a symbol of prestige for the wealthy classes. And they are considered thepinnacle of Roman craftsmanship, due to the refined decorations created both for the internal glass container and for the external shell, usually characterized by a fine lattice work. 

    The Autumn Cup

    The diatretic cup found in France does not have the external cage, but only the glass vase, having a diameter of 15 centimeters and a height of close to 13 centimetres. Decorated with great art, the artefact is embellished with aLatin inscription “Vivas Feliciter”, framed at the top by a collar in relief with egg motifs. The base of the vase is instead embellished with a "filigree network of eight heart-shaped ovals with circular rosette" (Source:

    The motto decorated on the diatreta cup represents a clear invitation to enjoy convivial pleasures. In fact, exhortations such as "Bibe, vivas feliciter" (Drink, that you may live happily) on similar vases are not new. But the wish, underlined by the exhortative subjunctive, reveals more generally the inexhaustible aspiration that Western culture nourishes: the pursuit of happiness.

    To observe the diatreta cup in detail visit the site: 


    You may also be interested in: The history of glass told by painters: between modernity and Impressionism
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