Pair of silver scyphi (cups) with relief decoration
Period:Early Imperial, AugustanDate:late 1st century B.C.–early 1st century A.D.Culture:RomanMedium:Silver with gildingDimensions:Overall: 3 3/4 x 8 1/8in. (9.5 x 20.6cm) diameter of bowl 5in. (12.7cm)Classification:Gold and Silver
These silver cups represent Roman metalwork of the highest quality. They were undoubtedly produced by one of the leading Roman workshops that supplied the imperial family as well as affluent and cultured private individuals—the same clientele for whom the villas around Rome and Naples were built, decorated, and furnished.
The cups are decorated in high relief with figures of cupids and are partially gilt. The cupids, several of whom are shown dancing and playing instruments, may be associated with Dionysiac festivities and so are eminently suitable as subjects on vessels meant for a drinking party. But here the figures have little, if any, real symbolism and were chosen simply because they formed an attractive group. Like many other pieces of ornate silverware, these cups were clearly intended as much for display as for use.