No Title

2008br8781 jpg l

View the V&A API .json response

Acquired in 1874 (the spelunker thinks)

artist
Unknown
attributions_note
bibliography
collection_code
MET
credit
date_end
0300-12-31
date_start
0100-01-01
date_text
100-300 (made)
descriptive_line
Toilet pot, silver-gilt; relief with figures of boys carrying birds and fruit; Roman, possibly 3rd century.
dimensions
Height: 3.7 cm, Diameter: 4.5 cm, Weight: 0.1 kg
edition_number
event_text
exhibition_history
gallery
Medieval and Renaissance, room 8
historical_context_note
This little silver pot is almost certainly a container for oils, creams or other cosmetic preparations - we can be fairly sure of this because they are sometimes found with sets of toiletry utensils. The pot is unusually known by the Greek name pyxis and is known in other materials in particular bone, silver versions are more rare. Like many ancient peoples, the Romans believed in an afterlife that would be an idealized form of their worldly experience. It was a family obligation to ensure that the grave of every deceased relative was furnished according to its means; not just food and wine, but also offerings of perfume and cosmetics. The wealthy would provide these offerings in flasks and pots (unguentaria), made of glass, silver or alabaster. It is possible that the present example survived through such burial practices. There was an extensive market for unguentaria in life as well as death; Roman society was fastidious about personal hygiene and appearance. Varro records that by the second century BC the increased wealth of patricians and citizens had led to greater leisure and luxury and the adoption of more elaborate bathing practices. Each department of the toilet had its own operation, each portion of the body, even each limb commanded separate attention. The complicated toilet and use of cosmetics was not confined to female Romans. The Emperor Elgabalus on his first entry to Rome appeared with his eyebrows blackened with antimony and his face panited red and white. A sealed pot of Roman ointment was found at an archaeological dig in Southwark in 2003 and is now held in the Museum of London. It dates from the second century AD and may give an indication of the type of cosmetic which the present pot contained. Bristol University scientists analysed the cream and found it to be made from animal fat, starch and tin oxide. The cosmetic was probably intended to leave a smooth, powdery texture when rubbed into the skin. By the first-century BC, reserves and fresh supplies of precious metals had become so great that Republican Rome made the transition from a relatively plain to a luxurious standard of living. The display of gold and silver among private citizens in the form of jewellery and plate, was the natural counterpart of imperial magnificence on an even more sumptuous scale. Even every day objects could be embelished with the precious metals and bathing and cleanliness rituals occupied a special place in Roman every day life. The treatment of the accoutrements associated with the toilet reflected both the abundance of luxury materials and the improtance of bathing in Roman life. The great quantity of gold and silver available to Roman craftsmen did not last. The political, economic and military instability in the Empire is reflected in the small quantity of objects made from those materials, which have survived from the late third and the first half of the fourth century.
historical_significance
history_note
id
35701
label
POT FOR OINTMENT Silver-gilt Roman; 3rd century
last_checked
2014-08-29T21:49:37.000Z
last_processed
2014-08-29T21:49:37.000Z
latitude
41.903111
location
Medieval and Renaissance, room 8, case 14
longitude
12.49576
marks
materials
Silver, gold
materials_techniques
Silver-gilt
museum_number
300-1874
museum_number_token
3001874
object_number
O40547
object_type
Toilet pot
on_display
1
original_currency
original_price
physical_description
Toilet pot, cylindrical in shape, with a continuous relief around the sides featuring boys carrying birds and fruit.
place
Rome
primary_image_id
2008BR8781
production_note
Attributed date is uncertain
production_type
public_access_description
This little silver pot is almost certainly a container for oils, creams or other cosmetic preparations - we can be fairly sure of this because they are sometimes found with sets of toiletry utensils. The pot is unusually known by the Greek name pyxis and is known in other materials in particular bone, silver versions are more rare. There was a sizable market for cosmetic pots in life as well as death; Roman society was fastidious about personal hygiene and appearance. Varro records that by the second century BC the increased wealth of patricians and citizens had led to greater leisure and luxury and the adoption of more elaborate bathing practices. Each department of the toilet had its own operation, each portion of the body, even each limb commanded separate attention. The complicated toilet and use of cosmetics was not confined to female Romans. The Emperor Elgabalus on his first entry to Rome appeared with his eyebrows blackened with antimony and his face panited red and white.
related_museum_numbers
rights
3
shape
site_code
VA
slug
toilet-pot-unknown
sys_updated
2013-08-17T00:00:00.000Z
techniques
chasing, embossing, mercury-gilding
title
updated
vanda_exhibition_history
year_end
300
year_start
100