Mug in the form of an African boy's head

Italic, Etruscan
Late Classical or early Hellenistic Period
350–300 B.C.
Negro Boy Group

Catalogue Raisonné

Vase-Painting in Italy (MFA), no. 178.


Height: 16.4 cm (6 7/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World



VASE PAINTING in ITALY, #178 (07.863)
Plastic Mug in the Form of an African Boy’s Head
Attributed to the Negro-Boy Group
2nd half of 4th century B.C.

Circling the bottom of the neck is a band of dotted egg-pattern framed by stripes. The boy’s snail-shell curls were applied separately, as was the rosette on the forehead. The eyes, set deeply beneath sharp brows, are large and heavily lidded; the whites and a ring around the pupil are reserved. Added red is used for the lips, the philtrum, the petals of the rosette, and a stripe around the side of the foot. On the reserved underside of the foot are two concentric black circles. Beazley saw a connection between the careful finishing of the underside of this and the following vase (cat. no. 179) and that of other head-vases and duck-askoi from Clusium (EVP, p. 304). The connection between the Negro-Boy Group and the Clusium Group is fully accepted by Pianu (Figure rosse, no. 141). Harari, however, denies that Beazley offered a sufficient basis to make the link and excludes the Negro-Boy Group from the Clusium Group (Gruppo Clusium, p. 174)
This and the following vase (cat. no. 179) are two of the most striking members of Beazley’s Negro-Boy Group; the closest parallel, as Beazley noted, is Villa Giulia 16338 Beazley, EVP, p 187, pl. 40, 6). One may add to Beazley’s list a mug formerly in the Zurich art market [Fortuna, Anatikenkatalog 13 [1989], no. 1) Vessels of this type first appeared in Athens in the late sixth century (e.g. Boston 00.332: J.D.Beazley, Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters [Oxford, 1956], p. 614); Beazley considered the later Attic examples inferior to these Etruscan variations on the theme.


By date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren (according to a letter from Edward Perry Warren, dated November 3, 1907, this vase, with 07.862 and 07.864, came from the same Faliscan tomb); purchased from Edward Perry Warren by W. A. Gardner; gift of W. A. Gardner to MFA, December 12, 1907

Credit Line

Gift of W. A. Gardner