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Impressive Etruscan Bronze Vessel - Gorgon Relief

Etruria, central Italy, ca. 600 to 400 BCE. This is a large bronze vessel with a delicate, decorated handle and a gorgon-faced applique at the bottom of the handle. The vessel sits on a flared foot and has a flared rim. If this was a vessel made for drinking wine (which seems likely), it was made for drinking a LOT of wine -- imagine this as a vessel for drinking from at a party! The presence of the gorgon speaks to the Classical world of mythology; the concept of the gorgon, a frightening, beast-like, female creature, is at least as old as Homer and continued to be used as a monstrous symbol throughout the Roman period. The Etruscans were in contact with the Greek colonies in southern Italy throughout their existence and much of their trade and artwork connections were more closely related to the Greeks than to the Romans whom they are often associated with. Etruria -- modern day Tuscany, Lazio, and Umbria -- was rich in metals, including copper, and the Etruscans drew upon their native resources to become master bronze smiths. Beautiful bronze items like this vessel were made not only for use in Etruria, but traded abroad, where the Etruscan reputation for bronze work was well known. Size: 7.75" W x 6.3" H (19.7 cm x 16 cm)

Condition: Repaired cracks, but the repairs are well done and difficult to see; the bronze is somewhat fragile due to age; shape is excellent, with the details of the handle and gorgon carving particularly fine.

Provenance: Ex-private East Coast Gallery, private New England collection

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