A wonderful Roman red ware jug from North Africa, probably from Tunisia, with a applied strap handle, which is decorated, and standing on a low foot.
The body of the vessel, having a tapered shape, is decorated with applied scenes in relief. One side shows two man wrestling, one almost upside down or lying on the ground. The scene is bordered left and right by two columns with elaborate capitals, and above by an arch, possibly representing a victor's wreath, with a beaded border and floral sprigs.
The opposite side shows a naked Eros, who is winged and is holding what is probably a tambourine above his head. Under his feet is the depiction of a lion. This scene has similar borders, consisting of columns and an arch. There are three columns altogether.
It is very rare to see a red ware vessel with such elaborate and clear relief. A beautiful example.
Roman, North African, circa 3rd century C.E.
Height 12.9 cm, maximum diameter cm ca. 9.5 cm.
Private L.A. collection, 1960s; with Arte Primitivo, New York, January 2006, lot 136; thence Dutch private collection.
Under magnification a thin hairline is visible (a few cm long only), running down from the rim towards the handle; this may be a hairline crack, although on the inside it is not visible, or a scratch; possibly some minor damage to a foot of one of the athletes, although this may also belong to the design; a shallow rim roughness has been repaired; the handle has been reattached; a few of the scratches and small chips that are common on the surface of ancient pottery (not detracting and as visible on the photographs), one of them near the bottom (ca 9 x 3 mm) refilled with ancient material; traces of where an ancient sticker once was attached on the bottom; otherwise intact, with wonderful details.