African Red Slipware is identified as the final development of terra sigillata, from the Latin, meaning ‘sealed earth’. Terra sigillata was a form of Roman red slipware pottery, which was developed around the mid-1st century BC, both for domestic use and export. These pieces were modelled on the lathe directly in the matrix, on which decorative motifs were hollowed out and then impressed on the smooth body of the vessel, appearing therefore in relief. Sometimes the decorative motifs in relief would have been applied to the vessel by using very thin, liquid clay. One of the most important centres of production was the Italian city of Arretium (modern day Arezzo). However, terra sigillata wares were produced also in Gaul and later in North Africa and Asia Minor, where the Italian prototypes were initially imitated, then evolved into new shapes, creating unique and distinctive styles. Terra sigillata vessels were often decorated in accordance with traditional Greco-Roman tastes, presenting images of classical mythology, hunting scenes and divine figures.
Ancient Roman North African Terracotta Relief Plaque with Pteurocentaur
A fine fragment of an Ancient Roman North African terracotta plaque depicting a pteurocentaur, a creature from Ancient Greek mythology with the head and torso of a man, and the lower body of a winged horse. The relief, executed in the typical classical style, shows a rearing pterocentaur with one arm raised and the hand open towards the sky, whereas in the other he is holding a stick. A tree, with large leaves and bearing fruit, is depicted to the rear of the creature. Anatomical details of the creature are extremely finely rendered, with the plumage of the wings designed with extremely fine detail, as well as the tail. A metal hoop has been attached to the reverse of the piece, which remains unworked.
Provenance: Ex Alison Barker (deceased) collection, 1980-90's, Christchurch.
Condition: Good condition, light erosion to the relief, which, however, still retains a good definition of details.