Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
ETRUSCAN]
721
CERAMICS

comedy is seen in subjects derived from the phlyakes, a kind of farce or burlesque popular in southern Italy, and here again the setting is adapted from the stage, some vases having parodies of myths, others comic scenes of daily life.

Many vases of this period, especially those of large size, were expressly designed for funeral purposes. Some of these bear representations of the underworld, with groups of figures undergoing punishment. On others shrines or tombs are depicted—sometimes containing effigies of the deceased, at which the relatives make offerings—as on the Athenian lekythoi. But by far the greater portion of the subjects are taken from daily life, many of these being of a purely fanciful and meaningless character like the designs on Sèvres or Meissen china; the commonest type is that of a young man and a woman exchanging presents, the presence of Eros implying that they are scenes of courtship.

The vases of this period are usually grouped in three or four different types, corresponding to the ancient districts of Lucania, Campania and Apulia, each with its special features of technique, drawing and subjects. In Lucanian vases the drawing is bold and restrained, more akin to that of the Attic vases; in Campania a fondness for polychromy is combined with careless execution. In Apulia a tendency to magnificence exemplified in the great funeral and theatrical vases is followed by a period of decadence characterized by small vases of fantastic form with purely decorative subjects. Besides these we have the school of Paestum, represented by two artists who have left their names on their vases, Assteas and Python. A well-known example of the work of the former is a krater in Madrid with Heracles destroying his children, a theatrical and quasi-grotesque composition, and there is a fine example of Python’s work in a krater in the British Museum, with Alkmena, the mother of Heracles, placed on the funeral pyre by her husband Amphitryon, and rain-nymphs quenching the flames (Plate I. fig. 55).

EB1911 Ceramics Fig. 33.—Cup with exploits of Theseus.jpg
Fig. 33.—Cup with exploits of Theseus.

About the end of the 3rd century B.C. the manufacture of painted vases would seem to have been rapidly dying out in Italy, as had long been the case elsewhere, and their place is taken by unpainted vases modelled in the form of animals and human figures, or ornamented with stamped and moulded reliefs. These in their turn gave way to the Arretine and so-called “Samian” red wares of the Roman period. In all these wares we see a tendency to the imitation of metal vases, which, with the growth of luxury in the Hellenistic age, had entirely replaced painted pottery both for use and ornament; the pottery of the period is reduced to a subordinate and utilitarian position, merely supplying the demands of those in the humbler spheres of life.

Collections.—The majority of the painted vases now in existence are to be found in the various public museums and collections of Europe, of which the largest and most important are the British Museum, the Louvre and the Berlin Museum. Next to these come the collections at Athens, Naples, Munich, Vienna, Rome and St Petersburg; isolated specimens of importance are to be found in other museums, as at Florence, Madrid or the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris. Most of the great private collections of the two preceding centuries have now been dispersed. In recent years the Boston Museum has raised America to a level with Europe in this respect; and the Metropolitan Museum at New York contains a vast collection of Cypriote pottery.

Literature.—Important original articles are to be found in various archaeological journals such as American Journal of Archaeology (1885, &c); Annual of the British School at Athens (1894, &c.); Athenische Mitteilungen (1876, &c.); Bulletin de correspondance hellénique (1877, &c.); Comptes rendus de la commission impériale archéologique (St Petersburg, 1859–1888); Gazette archéologique (Paris, 1875–1889); Jahrbuch des kaiserlichen deutschen archäologischen Instituts, Berlin (1886, &c.); Journal of Hellenic Studies (1880, &c.); Monumenti antichi (Milan, 1890, &c.); Monuments grecs (Paris, 1872–1898); Monuments Piot (Paris, 1894, &c.); Revue archéologique (Paris, 1844, &c.). The older works have been recently superseded by important publications embodying the latest views such as Hartwig, Die griechischen Meisterschalen des strengen rotfigurigen Stils (1893); Louvre, Catalogue des vases antiques de terre cuite, by E. Pottier (1896, &c.); S. Reinach, Répertoire des vases peints (Paris, 1899–1900); H. B. Walters, History of Ancient Pottery (Greek, Etruscan and Roman), 1905, with an excellent bibliographical list; also art. “Hischylos” in J.H.S. xxix. (1909) p. 103.

Etruscan Pottery.—Parallel with the development of the art of pottery in Greece runs the course of the art in Etruria, though with far inferior results; in its later stages it is actually no more than a feeble imitation of the Greek. The period of time which we must consider extends from the Bronze age (1000 B.C. or earlier) down to the 3rd century B.C., when Etruscan civilization was merged into Roman.

The earliest civilization traced in Italy is not, strictly speaking, Etruscan, but may perhaps be more accurately styled “Umbrian.” It is usually referred to as the “Terramare” period from the remains discovered in that district in the basin of the Po. These people were lake-dwellers, barely removed from the Neolithic stage of culture, and their pottery was of the rudest kind, hand-made and roughly baked. Cups and pots have been found sometimes with simple decoration in the form of knobs or bosses, and many have a crescent-shaped handle serving as a support for the thumb.

The next period, the earliest which can be spoken of as “Etruscan,” is known as the “Villanova” period, from a site of that name near Bologna, or as the period of pit-tombs (a pozzo), from the form of the graves in which the pottery has been found (see Villanova). It begins with the 9th century B.C. and lasts for about two hundred years. The pit-tombs usually contain large cinerary urns or ossuaria (containing the ashes of the dead), fashioned by hand from a badly-levigated volcanic clay known as impasto Italico. These vessels were irregularly baked in an open fire, and the colour of the surface varies from red-brown to greyish black. They appear to have been covered with a polished slip, intended to give the vases a metallic appearance. The shape of the urns is peculiar, but uniform; they have a small handle at the widest part and a cover in the form of an inverted bowl with handle (Plate III. fig. 63). Their ornamentation consists of incised or stamped geometrical ornaments formed in the moist clay in bands round the neck and body; more rarely patterns painted in white are found. Common pottery is also found showing little advance on that of the Terramare