Gift of the Misses Harriet Sarah and Mary Sophia Walker1894.50
Like the glass cup in the Museum’s collection, this small jar features subtle fluting winding around the body, an artifact of the mold-blown process. Small jars like these could have been used for many purposes, such as holding medicinal salves and cosmetics or serving condiments or liquids at the table. Similar jars have been discovered in great numbers on Cyprus.
This vessel is one of thirty-seven glass vessels donated by the sisters Mary Sophia (1839–1904) and Harriet Sarah Walker (1844–1898), on the completion of the Walker Art Building in 1894. The success of the project was indebted to the sisters’ vision of a building devoted “solely to art purposes,” their selection of the architect Charles McKim, and their deep involvement with every aspect of the building’s design. Recognizing the need for art objects of exceptional quality for students at Bowdoin to study, the sisters seeded the Museum collections with many important gifts, both from their own collections and newly acquired works for the occasion.
The glass vessels the sisters acquired for the Museum fall into the latter category and were purchased from the Thomas B. Clarke Fine Arts gallery in New York City. They were reported to be from three sources: German excavations at Limassol in Cyprus in the 1880s, the excavations of Alessandro Palma di Cesnola, also on Cyprus, and from local (unexcavated) collections in and around the city of Tyre in Lebanon. As such, the Walker glass collection represents an excellent cross-section of ancient glass arts, particularly of Roman glass production in the eastern Mediterranean.
Before 1894, likely excavated in Greece, possibly Rhodes; 1894, sold to Mary Sophia Walker by a Mr. Morgan on behalf of the Thomas B. Clarke Fine Arts Gallery, New York; 1894, acquired by the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, gift from Harriet Sarah and Mary Sophia Walker, Brunswick.
Donors of the Walker Art Building as well as a significant collection of art and antiquities, Mary Sophia Walker (1839–1904) and Harriet Sarah Walker (1844–1898) were among the most significant benefactors in the development of the art collection at Bowdoin.