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 Red Slipware Relief Plaque with Lion and Human Figure
A fragment of an Ancient Roman North African red slipware plaque depicting a lion and a human figure. The relief, executed in the typical classical style, shows the side profile of a lion facing right with both its forelegs and hind legs outstretched in a leaping position. The anatomical features of the animal have been naturalistically rendered, including the fur across its body along with the facial features. To the rear of the lion, a moving human figure is portrayed wearing a short-skirted garment, with his arms reached out in front of him and his legs in motion. However his head is no longer visible due to the fragmentary condition. The plaque is possibly depicting a hunting scene, suggested by the presence of a spear pointing towards the lion and the motion of the human. The reverse of the piece remains unworked.
Provenance: Ex Alison Barker, deceased collection, acquired in 1970.
Condition: Fine condition, some wear with age.