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Black and brown-colored beaker with small round base, wide mouth, and wider spherical middle with vine and leaf raised designs

This intact spherical-shaped terracotta beaker is covered with a thin coating of black, but has several areas revealing the brown-colored undercoat. The mouth is wide and round and appears to be slightly worn with patches of black and brown. The smooth neck widens downward to the bulbous middle section that is defined by two linear bands. From here, the sides taper dramatically to a smooth, narrow base. The middle section is encircled with raised, linear ivy decorations that are round shaped and mainly brown-colored.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Bulbous Beaker with Ivy Tendrils
Work Type
200-250 CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Britain (Britannia)
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

11 cm (4 5/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Pinney Family, Arne House, Wareham, Dorset. Captain A.W.F. Fuller, London, UK (1882-1961). [Bonhams, Limited. London, 30 October 2003, Lot 256] sold; to [Charles Ede Limited, London, 2003-2011] sold; to Harvard Art Museums, 2011.

Note: Old label on vessel reads "ROMAN POT, Dug up in the grounds of Arne, House, ARNE, near Wareham, Dorset by the Pinney family".

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Marian H. Phinney Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Bulbuous beaker of light brownish clay coated with a black slip ("color-coated"). The decoration on the belly consists of ivy tendrils applied "en barbotine," i.e. in diluted clay. The tendrils are framed by and extend over two bands of "rouletting," which consists of rows of vertical strokes impressed with a rotating tool (1). The slip is partly abraded on exposed areas of the barbotine decoration.

1. For vessels with a similar barbotine patterns of ivy, see the Catalogue of Roman Pottery, British Museum (1908), fig. 77 (M131) and 78 ((M133).
Dark brown and black color-coated beakers were produced in the northern Roman provinces, in central Gaul, the Rhineland (Cologne), and Britain (Nene Valley). The barbotine decoration on these beakers ranges from ivy tendrils to animal chases and hunt, gladiatorial, and erotic scenes. Rouletting is common. The present beaker could either have been a Rhenish import to Britain, where it was found, or, perhaps more likely, considering the brownish color of the clay, it was made locally.

Publication History

  • Charles Ede Limited, Catalogue 184, auct. cat. (London, 2011), Cat. no. 19, illustrated.

Subjects and Contexts

  • Roman Domestic Art

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at