An Etruscan Bucchero Oinochoe, Geometric Period, ca. 750–690 B.C.

the ovoid body with flattened foot, the sides adorned with applied vertical ribs, widely spaced, the neck narrowing at the top to form a steeply angled trefoil pouring spout. A single handle, in two parts is applied at the shoulder joining at the rim.  The distinctive beak-spout of this jug indicates that it is a local imitation of a type imported to Italy from the Eastern Mediterranean with increasing frequency into the seventh century B.C. This particular type, with split handle and modeled ribs, was especially popular in Bisenzio, during the transition between Villanovan and Early Etruscan culture.

Background:  Bucchero’s distinctive black color results from its manufacturing process. The pottery is fired in a reducing atmosphere, meaning the amount of oxygen in the kiln’s firing chamber is restricted, resulting in the dark color. The oxygen-starved atmosphere of the kiln causes the iron oxide in the clay to give up its oxygen molecules, making the pottery darken in color. The fact that pottery was burnished (polished by rubbing) before firing creates the high, almost metallic, sheen. This lustrous, black finish is a hallmark of bucchero pottery. Another hallmark is the fine surface of the pottery, which results from the finely levigated (ground) clay used.

Bucchero pottery represents a key source of information about the Etruscan civilization. Used by elites at banquets, bucchero demonstrates the tendencies of elite consumption among the Etruscans. The elite display at the banqueting table helped to reinforce social rank and to allow elites to advertise the achievements and status of themselves and their families.

Reference:  Philip Perkins, Etruscan Bucchero in the British Museum (London: The British Museum, 2007).

Dr. Jeffrey A. Becker, Bucchero, British Museum

Dimensions:Height: 8 in (20.3 cm)

Condition:An interesting form with nicely burnished black surfaces, with some expected some minor losses to the body that do not detract.

Provenance: Ex Tachner collection, acquired from Ariadne gallery, NYC in 1980.


Sign up today!