Ancient Roman erotic images and depictions of genitalia, the phallus in particular, were popular motifs across a wide range of media and objects throughout Rome, including amulets, frescoes, pottery, mosaics and lamps. Such symbols were a representation of fertility and were often associated with healing and protection. The Roman religion promoted sexuality as prosperity for the state, whilst warning against behaviours that revealed excess or weakness. Roman pottery was used for utilitarian purposes and widely produced throughout the empire in specialised workshops. The vessels were created with many different, along with traditional, designs influenced by different cultures under the empire’s reign. A broad division between ‘coarse’ and ‘fine’ ware is normally used to classify the wide range of Roman vessels. The former being used for storage and transportation purposes, the latter comprising of serving vessels or tableware with intricate relief or painted decorations.
Roman Terracotta Jar Fragment with Erotic Scenes
A Roman terracotta jar fragment featuring wide shoulders leading to a small cylindrical neck with a chipped rim. Two pierced handles are displayed on either side of the neck. The fragment is decorated in high relief with two erotic scenes. The first displaying a nude female pleasuring herself with several different objects. The figure has her legs bent at the knees and splayed out with both of her arms outstretched. The second scene features a copulating couple. One figure is crouched over while being penetrated from the rear by a crouching nude male, some of the scene is now missing. The reverse is unadorned.
Provenance: Acquired 1970-1999. London collection of the late Mr S.M., thence by descent.
Condition: Fine condition, fragmented piece.