Lamp-filler (guttus) in the form of a satyr

Greek, South Italian
Late Classical to Early Hellenistic Period
second half of 4th century B.C.

Place of Manufacture: Italy, Apulia

Catalogue Raisonné

Vase-Painting in Italy (MFA), no. 034.


Height: 8.9 cm (3 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Red Figure

Not On View


Europe, The Ancient World



Guttus (lamp-filler) in the form of a satyr. Small jug with ring-handle and tilted spout. Rose-buff clay; black-brown paint on hair, spout, handle; face coated with ochre wash and features were painted with black and white slip. Tip of right ear restored.

The face is mold-made, with the ears attached separately. The beardless young satyr is grimacing, with knitted brows and deep creases around the mouth and cheeks. The flesh parts are unpainted, but an ocher wash heightens the reddish tone of the clay. Black glaze was used for the hair, eyebrows, irises, and inner mouth; added white for the teeth and the whites of the eyes. The hair is molded only over the forehead.

Gutti of this type are rare; the closest parallel is Malibu 81. AE. 162, in the shape of a young Pan’s head: Andre Emmerich Gallery, Inc., Art of Ancient Italy: Etruscans, Greeks and Romans (new york, 1970), p. 44, no. 69. A somewhat larger guttus in the Tampa Museum of Art (86.223) is in the shape of a female African’s head: Münzen and Medaillen A.G., Italische Keramik, Sonderliste U (Basel, Nov. 1984), pp. 60-61, no. 106. Another in the Constantini collection, in the Antiquarium of the Museo Civico in Fiesole, takes the form of a woman’s head: CVA Fiesole 2, pl. 35, 5-6; V. Saladino in C. Salvianti, ed., La collezione Constantini (Milan, 1985), pp. 68 (color illus.), 88 (no. 46), 103-104 (no. 46). The Boston and Malibu gutti, which have been identified as Apulian, have also been considered Etruscan, particularly because of Etruria’s rich tradition of sculptural vases; compare for example, the grotesque mask on a minature jug formerly in the art market: Andre Emmerich Gallery Inc., Classical Art from a New York Collection (New York, 1977), no. 46. In fact, however, several points argue in favor of the former ascription. Normal Etruscan gutti (i.e. with rounded body and feet) seem to be late; M.-O Jentel dates them (with much hesitation) to the third century; Les Gutti et les askoi à reliefs etrusques et apuliens: Essai de classification et de typologie (Leiden, 1976), pp. 48-49. This piece and the vividly painted woman in Fiesole, however, seem to belong to the period of red-figure vase-painting in the fourth century. The mouth, moreover, is the stepped Apulian variety rather than the concave collar seen in the Etruscan gutti, and the handle is convex, as in Apulia, rather than strap-like or corded, as in Etruria; see Jentel, Gutti, passim. The grimacing satyr and Pan on these unusual figural vases have as much in common with an apotropaic Medusa head (ibid., p. 295, AP III, 7a, fig. 152) as they do with the most hard-faced of the silenoi on conventional Apulian gutti (ibid., p. 273, AP II, 1g, fig. 139). A black-glazed guttus in the form of a bearded satyr’s head, said to be from Asia Minor and having a slender vertical spout and a ring handle at the top of the head, was recently in the New York art market (Antiquarium, Ltd.).

(text from Vase-Painting in Italy, catalogue entry no. 34)


By date unknown: Dr. and Mrs. Jerome M. Eisenberg Collection; gift of Dr. and Mrs. Jerome M. Eisenberg to MFA, June 27, 1990

Credit Line

Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Jerome M. Eisenberg