Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Laura Ambrosini, Vincent Jolivet (ed.), Les potiers d'Étrurie et leur monde: contacts, échanges, transferts. Hommages à Mario A. Del Chiaro. Armand Colin - recherches. Paris: Armand Colin, 2014. Pp. 488; 8 p. of plates. ISBN 9782200287696. €38.00 (pb).

Reviewed by Christopher Smith, British School at Rome; University of St Andrews (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed below.]

This collection of essays on Etruscan ceramics is a homage to a distinguished professor in the field, Mario del Chiaro, and is characterised by affection and the high quality of the contributions. The thirty-eight authors include some of the best in the field, and the book as a whole, while not pretending to be a synthesis of the available material, is an effective introduction to the complexities of the field. It is divided into the canonical four chronological sections, orientalising, archaic, classical and Hellenistic. All the essays are in French.

Harari gives a reading of the Aristonothos vase, concentrating on discourses of danger, the danger of drinking wine wrongly and the dangers of piracy. Bartoloni, Acconcia and ten Kortenaar put the Greek literary evidence for the names of drinking vessels together with the evidence from Etruscan burials and argue for a close transmission of the sense of a 'service du vin,' which replaces Iron Age markers of age and gender with a marker of status in the orientalising period. Boitani, Biagi and Neri look at Etrusco-Geometric amphorae, often found in multiples of two. Production begins about 680 to 670 BC, and recently examples have been found in the important work at Veii Grotta Gramiccia, led by Luciana Drago for the superintendency of Etruria Meridionale. Other examples have been found at Narce, but the workshop may have originated at Cerveteri. The essay presents a wonderful example from Veii, found in the Villa Giulia storerooms, with the representation of a ship with an extravagant horse head prow and stern. Camporeale presents the evidence for bronze and ceramic kantharoi, pointing out that they vary also in dimension, which must have affected function. He traces phases in the evolution of form and decoration, arguing for a close relationship between artisans in different media, with influences running in both directions, and each seeking to offer high quality material. De Puma and Brownlee provide the results of an intriguing discovery of the finds from a tomb described as Vulci B, the contents of which were purchased for Chicago in the mid- 1890s by A. L. Frothingham, but of which only two vases arrived. The rest have now been found in the storerooms of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and offer a good example of the interplay between imported and imitation goods. The essay's real focus, however, is on how to understand Frothingham's methods. He was an active agent for several museums and collections, and seems to have tried to maintain the integrity of tomb groups, but it looks as if things sometimes went wrong when they arrived at their destination. Micozzi revisits her work on 'white on red' decorated pottery, bringing in the new evidence from Crustumerium, and a fragment found in the southwest sector of the Palatine, and shows how these various examples relate to but remain distinct from the more substantial productions in Veii and Cerveteri. She speculates that they may all relate to workshops specialising in roof tile production. Aymerich identifies six phases in the production of bucchero, the earlier phases being largely luxury ware and the later ones including bucchero for domestic use. Aymerich then looks at a couple of case studies, T1 and 2 at Banditaccia in Cerveteri, and domestic pottery in a port context at Castellina del Maragone, on the border between the territories of Cerveteri and Tarquinia. Domestic bucchero has limited decoration and comes in very simple forms. Aymerich then looks at the diffusion of bucchero, especially kantharoi, and of quite high quality. He suggests that at Carthage and Marseilles we may see evidence of a fondouk (or funduq), a quarter for traders. (Would this case, itself intrinsically plausible, be stronger if domestic bucchero predominated?) Rasmussen looks at a largely Etruscan motif, of a huge animal devouring a human, whose legs alone can be seen (the so-called 'leg-in-mouth' motif). He notes that despite the usual claim that this is never found outside Etruria, there is a Boeotian metal engraver (the Lion engraver) who has a similar motif. Rasmussen concludes by suggesting that in Etruria the motif may relate to the inevitability of death. Bellelli looks at a relatively unusual form of amphora with the handle looped from and to the body of the amphora and not to the neck. Etruscan in origin, an example was found at Poggio Sommavilla, as part of elite Sabine importation of Etruscan goods. Recent work at Gabii permits Zuchtriegel to confirm that in the second half of the sixth century, and on into the Republic, the quality of pottery, especially red figure ware imported from Etruria, is poor, especially in contrast to the earlier period. Zuchtriegel argues that this reflects a period in which the Latins and Etruscans increasingly differentiate themselves. Coen gives an account of Etruscan imports and imitations in the Marche, noting first that the record has been damaged by the destruction of the museum at Ancona in the war and also by private collecting practices; second, that nevertheless the overall quantity is low; third, that there does seem to be evidence for Etruscan artisans operating in the area; and fourth, that the imported material seems confined to specific areas, especially tombs of women and the young. Ceramic imports can be compared with imports of bronze material.

Moving to the archaic period, Donati shows how decoration by a cylinder with a raised pattern, especially at Cerveteri, represents a newly flourishing and eclectic artistic environment with strong Ionic influences. Pieraccini looks at the same motif on braziers, some only recently brought back to light from American storerooms. Turfa argues that we need to work harder to explain the circulation of Etruscan cups in a style which Colonna dubbed 'Codros.' She suggests that their context may be in banquets between traders, of the style which in the east is called marzeah, and which can also be characterised by the exchange of tesserae hospitales. She brings into play also small mortars, for grinding spices, and places all this in the context of a lively trade in which the route between Cyprus and Etruria was important. Scheffer looks at the production of Etruscan black figure ware by the Ivy Leaf painter and the Micali painter to determine if place of deposition can prove place of production (the answer is 'not securely') and if there were clear trends in form and function (these painters produced – at least from the available evidence – work suitable for burials, but the argument is inevitably somewhat circular). Moretti Sgubini and Ricciardi present some new black figure vases from Vulci in the necropolis of l'Osteria, including potentially work by the Micali painter. Martelli continues the theme with an account of some new pieces (largely appearing on the art market) attributable to the Micali painter and suggest that these challenge Spivey's argument that the Micali painter only produced for the funerary sphere. Maggiani takes a close look at an Attic Black Figure hydria showing the apotheosis of Herakles from the Lucioli collection at Chiusi. Comparing this with a similar piece (Cambridge 56), and both from the Leagros group, and noting the commercial marks, he suggests that this was a cargo split into two with two hydria, about forty chytrides and some oxybapha. This is further confirmation of the significance of Vulci as a trading partner. Paolucci compares an amphora found at Chiusi in 1912 with another in the Bonn Museum to suggest that there was another group from Orvieto active in Chiusi, comparable with the so-called Orvieto group. Edlund-Berry shows that Etruscan representations of the Achilles and Troilos scene all have representations of altars or fountains in a specifically Etruscan and non-Greek construction (the distinctive part is the mouldings).

Scarrone begins the section on the classical period with a new hypothesis for the inscriptions on the Group of Praxias amphorae; suggesting that Arnthe Praxias refers to an Etruscan artisan giving a gift to a Greek friend, rather than an Etruscanized Greek, or a Greek working for an Etruscan. The hypothesis has been made for another group of small amphorae by Wachter. Cygielman sees the development at Vulci of a hybrid form of stamnoid amphora as an indication of renewed interest in wine and in Dionysos in the late sixth and fifth centuries BC. Gilotta argues that comparison between Etruscan and Lucanian pottery shows representations of young men in connection with rituals of Dionysus or Apollo. This is more about civic than religious initiation, a sense of the proper engagement with the sacred sphere in the context of beginning a civic life. Rafanelli presents a tomb group from Vetulonia (Costa delle Dupiane), with pottery from the Sokra group, and running from the late sixth into the early fourth centuries BC.

The Hellenistic section begins with Bruni's presentation of two new fragments of the Centauromachy painter of Populonia, identified among the fragments given to the Florence Museum by the twentieth century collector Alfred Spranger (on whom there is a useful lengthy footnote). Adembri publishes a red figure column crater from the second half of the fourth century, from the necropolis La Ville in the Val d'Elsa, recently acquired from a family collection. Massa-Pairault reconsiders Boston skyphos 97.372, which del Chiaro associated with the scenes from the murder of Servius Tullius. Massa-Pairault seeks to revive this account, noting first that iconographically the vase might have a Faliscan origin. Second, the normal suggestion that this depicts the murder of Aegisthus itself has various problems. Third, the assassin is not particularly well defined – so a minor figure. Fourth, the gestures with togas reflect the traditions around Servius, his wife and the toga undulata. Fifth the monument shown may reflect the sacellum which Coarelli suggests should be located in the Esquiline and connected to ongoing reverence for Servius Tullius in the fourth century. Sixth, if the object was commissioned from Volsinii, was there a tradition there too of reverence for Servius, and could this be an antecedent of the demagogic tendencies of a later son of Volsinii, Sejanus? Jolivet presents oinochoe 273 from the Castellani collection in the Capitoline museum, focusing on its oddities and incoherencies in the context of Caeretan production. He raises the possibility that it is in fact a fake, or that it had multiple painters in antiquity. Torelli looks at Genucilia ware, and identifies similarities between the representation of the head on the plates with heads on shields and heads on coins. He also notes a Genucilios, a senator noted in a dedication at Lucus Feroniae in the context of a manumission, which leads to questions about the importance of the Roman influence in this production. Ambrosini by contrast presents a plate reduced to a single eye, noting influences from Magna Graecia but also perhaps a symbolic reference to sight or knowledge. Briquel presents the 26 examples of askoi carrying the gentilicial 'Atrane,' indicating, he suggests, a Perusine who owns a workshop whose product was widely distributed. Leone presents a skyphos and three kantharoi from Musarna with very thin walls, and suggests that there may be an influence from glass or silver from the east, specifically subsequent to the annexation of Pergamum.

Jolivet's conclusion regroups the essays thematically using the ideas of contact, exchange and transference, both ancient and, in the context of museological study, modern. As he notes, the essays raise as many questions as they answer, and the questions over the function and use of objects outside the funerary sphere are particularly provocative and helpful. The volume ends with useful indices. Most of the images are rather low quality black and white but there are some colour plates for particularly significant illustrations. A highly useful collection of essays therefore, which serves as a good account of how interesting and sophisticated the study of Etruscan ceramics has become.

Table of Contents

Partie I - L'époque orientalisante : autour du banquet et du symposion
1. Les stratégies d'Aristonothos (Maurizio Harari)
2. Le service du vin en Étrurie méridionale à l'époque orientalisante (Gilda Bartoloni, Valeria Acconcia et Silvia ten Kortenaar)
3. Amphores de table étrusco-géométriques d'époque orientalisante à Véies (Francesca Boitani, Folco Biagi et Sara Neri)
4. Canthares métalliques et canthares d'impasto : modèles et/ou répliques (Giovannangelo Camporeale)
5. Vulci B : redécouverte d'un contexte funéraire (Richard Daniel De Puma et Ann Blair Brownlee)
6. Vingt ans après. Retour sur la diffusion des styles « white-on-red » (Marina Micozzi)
7. Le bucchero : céramique de prestige et céramique commune, en Étrurie et en Méditerranée occidentale (Jean Gran-Aymerich 8. « Leg-in-mouth » : un motif orientalisant (Tom Rasmussen)
9. Une classe d'amphorettes étrusco-corinthiennes à anses « en étrier » (Vincenzo Bellelli)
10. Céramique « étrusque » à Gabii et dans le Latium archaïque : entre koinè tyrrhénienne et exception latine (Gabriel Zuchtriegel)
11. La céramique étrusco-corinthienne et italo-géométrique dans les Marches : réflexions préliminaires (Alessandra Coen)

Partie II - L'époque archaïque : l'Étrurie à la conquête des marchés
1. Aux origines de la technique de l'estampage au cylindre à Caere (Luigi Donati)
2. Un brasero de Caere et d'autres vases à engobe rouge cérétains (Lisa C. Pieraccini)
3. De Vulci à Chypre et au-delà : voyages du cycle étrusco-corinthien de Codros (Jean MacIntosh Turfa)
4. Peintres de vases étrusques à figures noires : lieux de découverte, formes et iconographie (Charlotte Scheffer
5. Nouveaux vases étrusques à figures noires de Vulci (Anna Maria Moretti Sgubini et Laura Ricciardi)
6. Micaliana (Marina Martelli)
7. Une cargaison de vases athéniens pour Vulci (Adriano Maggiani)
8. Un artisan du Groupe d'Orvieto à Chiusi : à propos de quelques amphores étrusques à figures noires (Giulio Paolucci)
9. Le langage de l'architecture dans la céramique étrusque peinte : définition d'une identité culturelle (Ingrid E. M. Edlund-Berry)

Partie III - L'époque classique : artisans et commanditaires
1. Arnthe, le Peintre de Praxias. Une hypothèse (299 Marta Scarrone)
2. Amphores stamnoïdes : une forme spécifique à Vétulonia (Mario Cygielman)
3. Le classique et la commandite dans la céramique figurée étrusque au passage du ve au ive siècle : quelques aspects de la question (Fernando Gilotta)
4. Le Groupe de Sokra à Vétulonia (Simona Rafanelli)

Partie IV - L'époque hellénistique : vers la production de série
1. Le Peintre de la Centauromachie de Populonia : nouveaux éléments (Stefano Bruni)
2. Aspects de la céramographie étrusque septentrionale : le cratère à figures rouges de Casole d'Elsa (Benedetta Adembri)
3. Le skyphos 97.372 de Boston : scènes « historiques » et histoire du ive siècle av. J.-C. (Françoise-Hélène Massa-Pairault)
4. Usual suspects. Une oenochoé étrusque à figures rouges des Musées Capitolins (Vincent Jolivet)
5. Genucilia : épigraphie et fonction, quelques considérations (Mario Torelli)
6. Regarder l'ailleurs. Influences allogènes, tendances minimalistes et trompe-l'œil sur les plats de Genucilia (Laura Ambrosini)
7. Les askos portant des marques au nom d'Atrane (Dominique Briquel)
8. Skyphos et canthares en céramique à paroi fine de Musarna : l'influence des vases en verre et en argent d'époque hellénistique (Julie Leone)

Conclusion (Vincent Jolivet)
Annexes Index géographique / Index des artistes, des artisans, des ateliers et des groupes / Index des noms

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