As a collector and patron of arts Marcell Nemes was not particularly interested in classical art, but his committed admiration for museums was shown in the fact that on occasion he swelled the collections of both the Museum of Applied Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts with ancient objects. He did not look for masterpieces; rather for the Museum of Applied Arts he sought glass vessels with a variety of forms and techniques to stimulate Hungarian applied artists. In the case of the Museum of Fine Arts, following foreign examples and related to the recently purchased terra cotta collection, he set the basis of what was to become the vase collection to extend the scope of his collecting.
To the Collection of Classical Antiquities, which hitherto had consisted only of sculptures, Marcell Nemes donated a small collection of ten clay vases in 1917, thus creating the basis for the museum’s vase collection, now containing over a thousand items. The vases donated consisted mainly of pieces made in Greek workshops in Southern Italy in the fourth - third century BC, including a monumental krater (mixing bowl) from Apulia decorated with red figures, and important products from the workshop in Cumae, Campania, also ornamented with figures. These were complemented by a black-figure amphora, made in Athens in the golden age of the technique, two specimens of the so-called Gnathian vases from Apulia, and two vessels covered with black varnish notable for their form.
Roman glass vessels
Glass vessels from the beginning of the Roman imperial age, after the invention of the technique of glass blowing, rivalled ceramics in their popularity, and collecting them was the job of the Museum of Applied Arts. Knowing this, in 1911 Marcell Nemes, in return for being nominated as a councillor, donated a collection of 170 Roman glass vessels to the Museum of Applied Arts. Even after the wartime losses a considerable amount of material remains, representing almost every form of vessel popular in the first to the fourth centuries AD, with a few particularly rare forms. As well as the most frequent freely blown specimens, it contains articles blown into a mould. Because these forms and techniques were disseminated across the Roman Empire, it is difficult to locate the place of manufacture of individual items; in any case in the representative selection here there are a good number of items from the near eastern and western provinces.
János György Szilágyi, 2011