Roman Pitcher with Erotic Scenes

SKU PF.0096

100 AD to 200 AD


7.75″ (19.7cm) high x 9″ (22.9cm) wide





Gallery Location



This vessel was created in the characteristically red fabric for which Roman potters showed a great predilection. Its design is such that the broad expanse of the shoulder provides an ample field for the attachment of the six relief appliqués. The fabric and technique used for the creation of this vessel were extremely popular in the early Roman Imperial Period as examples of so-called Arrentine ware attest. With the passage of time, the techniques of the Arrentine potters were transformed to meet the demands of potters working as far west as Gaul and as far east as the Anatolian peninsula. The vessel under discussion represents the creation of just such a potter working in Central Gaul in the second century AD. The six relief appliqués depict amorous couples engaged in an array of positions, many of which can be paralleled by depictions either on other vases or in other media. The Romans were not averse to celebrating the carnal pleasures of the flesh enjoyed by heterosexual couples, as the subject matter of these appliqués clearly demonstrates. The purpose of such scenes was to titillate and, in some cases, to demonstrate the desire of a particular client when frequenting one of the houses of ill-repute for which Roman cities were famous. In such a case, these scenes appear to have served as visual answers to the question, “What is your pleasure, sir?” References: Catherine Jones, Sex or Symbol. Erotic Images of Greece and Rome (Austin 1982), pages 125-130, for a discussion of vessels of this type and their decoration and meaning.

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