This group of objects, hailing from a diverse chronology, is composed of various materials, styles, and pictorial themes from drinking vessels with depictions of symposium culture to ointment jars representing the lucrative perfume trade of the ancient world. Although diverse in period, material, and function, the underlying element that unites these objects is their location of discovery in the tombs of the Etruscan aristocrats.
The red-figure Attic kylix (a cup used to drink wine in the symposium) (Inv. 16582) decorated by the famous Brygos Painter (490-480 B.C.) was found in the Etruscan city of Vulci. The interior of the vessel displays two men on a kline (couch for the symposium) during a repast. On the exterior of the cup, a mythological motif is depicted: Apollo recovers his herd, which the newborn Hermes had stolen from Olympus, unbeknownst to his mother Maia. The second kylix (Inv. 16583) is by the same Brygos Master and of similar provenance. The object’s decorative elements reference physical exercise and military preparation to which the young citizens of Athens were called to participate. In the interior of the kylix, an old man assists a young person bearing arms. The exterior shows armed warriors assisted by young people and children.
The third kylix (16562), also from Vulci and of Athenian manufacture, is attributed to the Painter of the Paris Gigantomachy (480-460 B.C.). It is dedicated to the myths of the struggle between a centaur with a Lapith and a centaur with Hercules.
The red-figure Attic krater (Inv. 16505) is a vase for the preparation of the wine to be served at a symposium. Found at Cerveteri, this krater is decorated by the artist identified as the Painter of Bologna 322 (440-430 B.C.). The artist has painted Dionysus witnessing the crushing of the grapes, an operation that takes on solemnity and sacred value within this culture.
The three perfume and ointment jars (Unguentory, Aryballos and Alabastron, Inv. 20256, 20257, 20258) come from the tomb of one the reigning families of the ancient Etruscan city of Cerveteri. This high status tomb is one of the many in the renowned Regolini-Galassi tumulus complex. The three jars are made of faïence, a pottery of Egyptian tradition imported from the eastern Mediterranean, together with the precious perfumes they contained.