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 Soldier, Lion and Tree
A fragment of an Ancient Roman North African red slipware plaque depicting a human, lion and a tree. The relief, executed in the typical classical style, shows the side profile of an advancing Greek soldier. He is portrayed naked with only a robe draped across his shoulders and a helmet on his head. In his left hand he holds a large shield with three incised circular patterns while his right holds a sword. In front of the soldier is a fallen lion. A tree, with large leaves and bearing fruit, is depicted above the scene. The entire imagery is framed by a rectangular border. The reverse of the piece is unadorned and features the segment of a raised rectangular margin.
Provenance: Ex Alison Barker, deceased collection, acquired in 1970.
Condition: Fine condition, some wear with age. Fragmentary at the top and bottom left corners. Residues to the reverse and the sides.