Two Glass Inlay Pairs

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Two Glass Inlay Pairs

3rd - 1st Century B.C.
H: 3.2cm



Two pairs of two halves from the same bar, finely detailed, with pointed ears and eyebrows, opaque yellow face, opaque red on the mouth, nose, eyes and ears, translucent cobalt blue edges to the mouth, nose and ears, with translucent emerald green leaves above and between the translucent cobalt blue brows and eyeline, translucent pink pupils, with translucent cobalt blie and opaque white snake scales below the face, in translucent cobalt blue matrix, cut in the lower part of a cartouche design. These rare heads might represent the Agathos Daimon, the tutelary deity of Alexandria, who was also identified with Serapis, the male counterpart of Isis-Thermouthis (who in turn was a graecisized form of the early snake harvest goddess Renenutet). In a statue of Isis-Thermouthis in Alexandria museum (no. 25773, ex-collection King Farouk I), reproduced in Gotten, Pharaonen, no. 151, the snake goddess is shown carrying the cornucopia, the horn of plenty. This representation of the daimon shows green vegetation above the eyes and satyr’s ears as well as distinct uraeus nose and scales beneath. It has also been cut in a way to suggest that it wore a headdress above.


The Per-Neb Collection (Part II ), Ancient Egyptian Glass Inlays, Christie’s, London, 7 July 1993, Lot 45 & Lot 45a.


Previously in the Private Collection of Achille Groppi (1890-1949), Egypt and Switzerland, acquired in the 1920’s-1940’s.
Thence by descent.
Sold at: The Per-Neb Collection (Part II ), Ancient Egyptian Glass Inlays, Christie’s, London, 7 July 1993, Lot 45 & Lot 45a.
Private Collection.
ALR: 12778.11.WK, with IADDA certificate, this item has been checked against the Interpol database.

Note on the Provenance

Achille Groppi (1890-1949) was a Swiss coffee-shop owner in Cairo with a passion for ancient glass and Egyptian antiquities. His father Giacomo Groppi, a pastry-chef and chocolatier from Lugano, had moved to Egypt, opening his first business in Alexandria in 1890. In 1907, after a financial crash had left him in dire straits, he moved to Cairo and opened ‘Maison Groppi’ a café which soon became very popular. Money from this allowed him and, by this time, his son Achille to open J. Groppi in the centre of Cairo, which soon became a renowned hub for society.

Achille started collecting in the 1920s, forming a collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts, many of mosaic glass from the Ptolemaic Period (330-30BC), as well as amulets, scarabs and bronze statues. He had ties with many of the leading Egyptologists of the day and his collection was highly regarded. Dying childless, he bequeathed his collection to his sister and her sons. A significant part was sold by Christie's in London in 1993, under the pseudonym ‘Per-Neb’.