Drinking cup (skyphos)

Italic, perhaps Etruscan
Late Classical Period
probably mid-4th century B.C.

Catalogue Raisonné

Vase-Painting in Italy (MFA), no. 161.


Height: 8.5 cm (3 3/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World



Skyphos (glaux)
Probably mid-4th century B.C.
The decoration is in creamy added white, without incision.
A and B: An owl flanked by vertical twigs of olive stares out of large, round eyes. The beak and the dot and circle of the eyes are reserved in black. The circling groundline is a double stripe.
For Etruscan owl-glaukes and the Attic vases that inspired them, see Beazley, EVP, pp. 200-201; F. P. Johnson, AJA 59 (1955), pp. 119-124, pls. 35-38; M. T. Falconi Amorelli, ArchCl 24 (1972), p. 105, pl. 44, 1; and Pianu, Sovradipinte, pp. 55-62, pls. 50-56 (compare especially pl. 51, no. 93). M. Del Chiaro emphasizes the role that Apulian glaukes could have had in disseminating the form (ArchCl 24 [1972], pp. 107-108).
Etruscan glaukes with applied red owls have double guidelines, which are not found in true red-figure glaukes. This common feature suggests that the glaukes with applied color belong to a common workshop tradition. The owls with incision, on the other hand, do not have reserved beaks and eyes, and they stand solidly on straight legs. Most of the unincised owls prance on bent legs, as in this example. The typological differences suggest that the workshop tradition had branched out or subdivided itself. The owls with incision, in any case, are probably earlier. In spite of the absence of incision in most Etruscan glaukes, Pianu is unwilling to date them to the second half of the fourth century; he feels they are too closely tied to fifth-century Attic models to permit so great a chronological displacement (Pianu, Sovradipinte, p. 55). Pianu believes these cups were produced at Falerii, although many have been found at Tarquinia.


By date unknown: Horace L. Mayer Collection; November 13, 1958: loaned to MFA by Horace L. Mayer (as 119.58); gift of Horace L. Mayer to MFA, December 11, 1958

Credit Line

Gift of Horace L. Mayer