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Katalog der Punzenmotive in der Arretinischen Reliefkeramik

Katalog der Punzenmotive in der Arretinischen Reliefkeramik

By Francesca Paola Porten Palange. 2 vols. Vol. 1, Pp. v + 363; vol. 2, Pp. 179, pls. 179. Römisch-Germanische Zentralmuseum, Mainz 2004. €92. ISBN 3-88467-088-3 (cloth).

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This is the first installment of a work that has been long awaited, in two senses. In the first, the study of the decorated terra sigillata of Arezzo has hitherto lacked the kind of basic dictionary of motifs that was created for Gaulish sigillata by Joseph Déchelette (Les vases céramiques ornés de la Gaule romaine [Paris 1904]) and Felix Oswald (Index of Figure-Types on Terra Sigillata [“Samian Ware”] [Liverpool 1936–1937]), and which is an early prerequisite for further progress. In the second sense, the study of the huge and fundamental collection at Arezzo itself was first taken seriously in hand some 50 years ago by Arturo Stenico, but despite grand statements of intent and some important early publications, this desideratum has remained substantially unsatisfied. Stenico himself published two folio volumes on Arretine Ware (La ceramica arretina. Vol. 1, Museo archeologico di Arezzo: Rasinius I [Milan 1960] and La ceramica arretina. Vol. 2, Collezioni diverse: Punzoni, calchi, modelli ecc. [Milan 1966]), but another 25 years were to elapse before a substantial monograph by one of his pupils was dedicated to the workshop of Cornelius (C. Troso, Il ceramista aretino Publius Cornelius. La produzione decorata a rilievo [Florence 1991]). As a result, scholars seeking attributions for decorated fragments have largely had to fall back on the seminal publication of the material from Arezzo in Tübingen (H. Dragendorff and C. Watzinger, Arretinische Reliefkeramik [Reutlingen 1948]) and on a disparate array of other published museum collections. The nearest one could get to anything systematic was Stenico’s Revisione critica delle pubblicazioni sulla ceramica arretina: Liste di attribuzioni del vasellame decorato con rilievi, edito fotograficamente (Milan 1960). Even that was composed only of lists and must now be regarded as suspect through its inadvertent reliance on pieces subsequently shown to be forgeries (see below). The double volume before us by Paola Porten Palange, another of Stenico’s former pupils, at last promises something altogether more comprehensive; this will be a standard reference work for all art historians and classical archaeologists who concern themselves with ceramics in the Mediterranean world.

What we are offered here is a more-or-less naked catalogue of the principal motifs (largely human and animal figures) found on the decorated terra sigillata produced in Arezzo and its immediate neighborhood in the first centuries B.C.E. and C.E. Deliberately excluded, therefore, are the products of the Po Valley, Pisa, Vasanello, and Pozzuoli, but for that reason we should now be able to see what constitutes the “core” of decorated “Arretine Ware” in the narrow sense. The arrangement is strictly typological, and the motifs are illustrated by drawings that in many cases are composites based on more than one example. The source material is a wide range of publications (there are some 400 entries in the bibliography), direct observation of the collections in Mainz and Heidelberg, and the photographic archive of Stenico with regard to the collection at Arezzo itself. The instances of each motif are listed, with an attribution to a workshop where possible, and of course careful documentation of those examples that are attested in conjunction with potters’ stamps. The relevant stamps are illustrated (9–17) according to the author’s own schema (which at this point makes no reference to the numbering of either the first [1968] or second [2000] edition of the Corpus Vasorum Arretinorum). The catalogue concludes with concordances for the previous major publications in the field.

The author tells us in the opening sentence of the preface (1) that the present publication is the first installment of a two-part work, and that the second part will contain the discussion of individual workshops, together with a treatment of border motifs and vegetable ornament (2). This is naturally where the main interest of the work will lie and where we shall see how much has changed since the times of Dragendorff and Stenico. The author’s previous publications on decorated Italian sigillata and, particularly, her masterly exposure of the forgeries that had inevitably influenced earlier studies (“Fälschungen aus Arezzo: Die gefälschten arretinischen Punzen und Formen und ihre Geschichte,” JRZGM 37, 1990 [1995] 521–652) make her preeminently qualified to write on the subject; her meticulousness is again displayed in the composition of the catalogue, and this reviewer, for one, awaits the second part of the work with keen anticipation.

Philip Kenrick
7 Abbey Close
Abingdon OX14 3JD
United Kingdom

Book Review of Katalog der Punzenmotive in der Arretinischen Reliefkeramik, by Francesca Paola Porten Palange

Reviewed by Philip Kenrick

American Journal of Archaeology Vol. 112, No. 1 (January 2008)

Published online at

DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1121.Kenrick

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