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Etruscan Amphora with a Siren
New York | Greek Vases
 
Date:  6th Century BC5th Century BC
Culture:  Etruscan
Category:  Greek Vases
Medium:  Ceramic
Dimension: H: 17.5 cm
Price: $7,000.00
Provenance: Ex-US Private collection, 1998
Serial No: 8456

This small amphora provides a wonderful example of 6th century Etruscan vase painting. The vase is painted black with a figural panel on either side of the body; above both these panels are single palmette motifs on the neck. The panel are almost identical, each containing a single mythological figure rendered in black figure with added red: a siren. The only significant difference between the two panels is the direction in which the creature faces: on one side, to the left; on the other, to the right.

With the head of a woman, and the body of a bird, the siren is both an alluring and dangerous figure in Greek mythology. Famous for her deadly, beautiful voice the siren is best known from her appearance in the Odyssey, in which Odysseus and his men barely escape death from her song through wit and cunning.

This amphora is attributed to the Micali Painter, an Etruscan vase painter of the late 6th century, who specialized in painting fantastic animals such as sphinxes, winged horses, and, as on our vase, sirens. The amphora is a Greek shape, copied here by an Etruscan potter. The shape was used throughout the ancient world to store and transport foodstuffs, such as wheat, or liquids like wine, oil or water. Typical of Etruscan amphorae, our example has a more elongated profile than Attic versions of this same shape.