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Etruscan terracotta urn

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek


The urn has again the same relief motif of Eteocles and Polyneikes, cast from a very worn mould, but in the original large format. On the top right edge a circle has been engraved prior to firing; this is the letter theta.

Description of object

The rationalisation of production here has gone a step further:the lid-figure itself is now mould-made. Thus, there has been a return to the figures lying flat, completely wrapped in a cloak. Only the shape of the head reveals whether it is a woman or a man. In this case, the wavy hair and the bun make it clear that it is a woman, but in many cases, the modelling of the head itself is not at all clear. Such figures are very common and their price may have been substantially lower than that of the hand-modelled lid-figures.

The lid’s rear corner has been broken off. Light beige tempered clay, covered with incrustations and a dark patina. The lid-figure is mould-made , with detailing done by hand, such as the headband and the fringes on the cushion. The underside is closed but the figure is hollow. Air-holes on the right side in the lower cushion and in the middle of the rear side. Red colour on the lower cushion, brown hair. The urn is of tempered clay, the surface, more finely levigated; most of the slip and all the paintwork disappeared during washing, which has occasioned the storage of the piece under the groundless suspicion that it was a forgery. The mould was quite worn. On the top is a slab with an oblong hole with round corners. The urn’s right rear-corner is damaged, where it is visible that the walls were assembled from slabs of clay, pressed together with the fingers.

Lid, H: 12 cm.; W: 23.5 cm.; L: 43 cm.

Urn, H: 27 cm.; W: 21 cm at the top, 20 cm at the base.; L: 43.8 cm.

Choice of methods

Visual examination

  • Macroscopic
  • Microscopic in situ

Technical imaging

  • UV
  • VIL
  • IR


  • Cross section
  • XRF


Den etruskiske samling, H. 306.

For the lid-figure type, cf. Rastrelli, Artigianato Artistico, no. 105: 1-4, 111, 114-115.

  • HIN 65
  • Urn
  • 130-80 BCE
  • Etruscan
  • Terracotta
  • Acquired in 1890 by Carl Jacobsen at Pacini's in Florence.
  • Lid, H: 12 cm.; W: 23.5 cm.; L: 43 cm. Urn, H: 27 cm.; W: 21 cm at the top, 20 cm at the base.; L: 43.8 cm.

Selected photos

  • Hin_0065_col_01
  • Hin_0065_col_02
  • Hin_0065_col_03
  • Hin_0065_col_04
  • Hin_0065_col_05