Ancient Greek Black-Glazed Terracotta Roundel with a Woman


A finely rendered Greek black-glazed terracotta roundel depicting a female figure in high relief. The figure is turned to the left, and her delicately rendered face is framed by soft locks of hair and a crescent-shaped diadem on top of her head. The classical facial features are clear and undamaged. A thin dress is draped across her chest. A round object in the left corner of the roundel, possibly a pomegranate, potentially points to the figure being Persephone, the Greek goddess of the Underworld. The scene is surrounded by a concave frame, its edges now slightly damaged. Decorative concentric circles on the reverse of the roundel as well as its slightly concave shape suggest that the fragment was probably the base of a terracotta bowl.

Date: Circa 5th Century BC-1st Century AD
Provenance: Raphaël Collin (1850-1916) collection, Paris; the Senator William A. Clark (1839-1925) Collection, acquired from the above in 1911; bequeathed to the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 1925; deaccessioned and gifted to the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington D.C., 2014; with Sands of Time Ancient Art, Washington D.C., 2021.
Condition: Very fine condition. The main scene is clear and intact. Some damage to the black glaze. Chips to the edges of the roundel. The reverse features markers from the previous collections.

In stock

In Greek mythology, Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the harvest goddess. She was kidnapped by Hades, and ate six pomegranate seeds whilst in the Underworld, which condemned her to stay there forever. Demeter, in her despair, destroyed the earth’s crops. In order to resolve the matter, Zeus ordered that Persephone should spend six months in the Underworld with her husband, Hades. The six months represented by the six pomegranate seeds eaten. The remaining six months would be spent on earth with her mother, Demeter. For the half of the year that Persephone was in the Underworld, Demeter mourned, and all natural life withered as a result. Demeter, neglects her duties and brings forth a barren state, the beginning of winter when the ground mourns for Persephone.While Persephone was on earth, however, Demeter’s joy brought about the rejuvenation of the crops, bringing forth Spring. This was a way for the Greeks to explain and understand the changing seasons. Persephone and Demeter stood at the centre of the Eleusinian mysteries, promising a more enjoyable afterlife for those who were initiated.

Weight 41.2 g
Dimensions L 7 x W 0.5 cm

Greek Mythology

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item,The British Museum, item 1930,0310.4

You may also like…