Palestre vase, c1930

This vase was made by the French glass designer Rene Lalique. It was inspired by the Ancient Greek wrestling schools known as Palaestra.

Spectator sport?

Wrestling was a highly respected sport in Ancient Greece and regarded as the best way of expressing your strength. Unlike present day wrestling the competitors were naked, as is depicted on the vase.

When we look at the vase are we simply admiring these sportsmen? There is a contrast between the toned, nude men showing off their physiques and the fine, delicate glass of the vase: does this give the piece a homoerotic quality?

Author: Rob White, Marketing Officer