Vase in the shape of a mouse

Greek, South Italian
Classical Period
about 450–410 B.C.
Artist Randazzo Group


Place of Creation: Italy, Sicily

Catalogue Raisonné

Vase-Painting in Italy (MFA), no. 106.

Dimensions

Overall: 8 x 15.5cm (3 1/8 x 6 1/8in.)

Accession Number

68.581

Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Red Figure, Sicilian Plastic

Not On View

Collections

Europe, The Ancient World

Classifications

Vessels

Plastic vase in shape of a mouse. The central spout has a pierced lug handle either side, and a feeding spout is between the back lug and the tail.

The mouse crouches with its front paws under its chin and its tail curled up beneath itself. The mouth of the vessel, in the center of the back, is flanked in front and back by a pair of stringholes. A narrow, tapering spout emerges at a 45-degree angle between the rear stringhole and the tail. A black ivy vine is painted on the back as though it were running through the holes. The ears, eyes, eyebrows, and neck fringe are also painted black, as are the tops of the mouth, spout, and stringholes.

Plastic mice of this type have been convincingly identified as Sicilian by Heldring (see references in Vase-Painting in Italy, under no. 106); this example she assigns to her Randazzo Group. A close parallel, not inlcuded in her lists, was recently in the Paris market (A La Reine Margot, Memoire de la Beaute: La Toilette et la Paurure de l’Egypte Predynastique aux Merovingiens [Paris, 1987], p. 23, no. 38.4, illus.). In 1990, another example was seen in a gallery in Rome (Simotti-Rocchi). Heldring suggests that such vessels may have been used for cult purposes (Sicilian, p. 13). The tapering spout, however, suggests a feeding cup; one can easily picture the mouse hanging from cords over a cradle.

(text from Vase-Painting in Italy, catalogue entry no. 106)

Provenance

By 1967: with Mathias Komor, 19 East 71st Street, New York 10021 (according to Komor's records: From Italy); gift of Mathias Komor to MFA, September 11, 1968

Credit Line

Gift of Mathias Komor