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Work Tripod vase with a handle in the shape of a horned animal

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Etruscan Art (9th-1st centuries BC)

Vase tripode à anse figurée : animal à cornes

© Musée du Louvre

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Etruscan Art (9th-1st centuries BC)

Author(s):
Astier Marie-Bénédicte

The vase's deep body, pronounced, slightly ridged shoulders, and handle in the shape of a horned animal identify it as an example of terra-cotta ware from the workshops at Bisenzio. It is modeled in impasto, a coarse brown clay whose smooth, polished surface has an almost metallic luster.

An example of Bisenzio pottery

Made between the late 8th and early 7th centuries BC, during the transition from the Villanovan period to the Orientalizing period, this small terra-cotta vase features a deep body topped with a cylindrical, slightly concave neck and a wide spout. The modeled decoration of the handle, in the shape of an animal, and its three incurved feet are typical of items produced at the workshops in Bisenzio, on the shores of Lake Bolsena in central Etruria.

Impasto pottery

This vessel is made of a coarse dark brown clay known as impasto, commonly used in the 9th and 8th centuries BC, for domestic pottery (often grave furniture) and funerary urns. The sides of the vase are relatively thin; its remarkably smooth surface has been polished to enhance its almost metallic, bronze-like sheen. Similar (but more costly) bronze items are also common in tombs of the period. The body of the vase is undecorated apart from a series of fine ridges around the shoulder and a succession of fine lines around the lower part of the neck, stamped into the soft clay using a carved roller.

The decorative vocabulary

At first restricted to geometric motifs, impasto pottery acquired a more sophisticated decorative repertory of animal and human figures, from the mid-8th century BC. The scrolling horns of the animal featured here are highly schematized, but identify it nonetheless as a billy goat; with its nose resting on the rim, it appears to be looking into the vase. In the Louvre, the same display case contains a similar, small vase from the Bisenzio workshops, with a handle in the form of a man driving a cart pulled by two bulls.

Technical description

  • Vase tripode à anse figurée : animal à cornes

    Seconde moitié du VIIIe - début du VIIe siècle avant J.-C.

    Production : Bisenzio

  • Impasto

    H. : 18 cm.

  • Acquisition 1954 , 1954

    CA 3450

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Denon wing
    Ground floor
    Etruria I
    Room 420
    Vitrine 1

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