Etruscan, black–figure, Pontic ware
Terracotta; h. 14 3/8 in. (36.5 cm)
The Bothmer Purchase Fund, 2012 (2012.26a,b)
The thousands of Greek vases imported into Etruria beginning about 600 B.C. significantly influenced local pottery production. This colorful and unusual work represents one enterprising Etruscan artist's response to an originally Greek shape and type of decoration. The form of the amphora, the inclusion of a lid, the two-part handles, the pendant lotus buds in the shoulder panels, the rays at the base of the body, and the echinus foot derive from Athenian prototypes of the mid-sixth century B.C. These imports also introduced the black-figure technique, with the use of incision and added color for details. The local admixture is most evident in the subject matter and its placement. The Etruscans were partial to sea creatures and birds. On one side the shoulder panel shows two mermen, on the other two belligerent dogs. Below, six metopes deployed fairly regularly around the circumference contain water birds, each somewhat different. The artist was not bound by the conventions that governed the decoration of Athenian pottery. He subdivided the available space and placed and executed the decoration according to his, or his patron's, specifications.