Very rare large Samian Ware hunt cup
Large beaker, type Dragendorff 54.
So-called hunt cup
2nd century A.D.
Brown clay with dark brown slip
Samian Ware. The name "vasa samia" was already used in antiquity, see e.g. Pliny the Elder in N.H. 35.46,160: "Samian etiam nunc in esculentis laudantur".
Height 164 mm. Diameter 150 mm.
Beaker type Dragendorff 54 with decoration in Barbotine technique. Short, high upward conical pedistal foot, globular body, short neck, protruding lip.
Decorated with a frieze showing a hound hunting a hare, surrounded by tendrils and ivy leafs. Offset towards the foot by three grooves.
Professionally recomposed from several fragments. Few missing ares reconstructed: about one third of the rim, a larger and a smaller band on the body, a tiny part on the body. Surface very well preserved with only slight wear. The Barbotine decoration is masterly made and excellently preserved. Absolutely worth the exhibition in a museum.
Hunt cups of Dragendoff 54 type are extraordinary rare. The only very similar comparable beaker which we could identify is the Felixstowe cup on exhibition in the British Museum (see references). Other cups in British and German museums are of a distinctively different type (e.g., the Castor ware beaker at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, or the hunt cup at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester.)
Type Dragendorff 54
For a very similar beaker, however showing a stag and a hound, see the beaker on exhibition in the British Museum in London with the number 1881-0626-9. The entry also gives the publication history for the piece with further literature. It can be assumed that H.B. Walters, Catalogue of the Roman Pottery in the Departments of Antiquities, British Museum (London 1908) M2365 describes this piece as well, although this reference is no longer shown.
Gose, Gefäßtypen der römischen Keramik im Rheinland Bd. 1 (1976) Nr. 164
Walters (see above) M115 Pl. XV shows a slightly earlier beaker (the foot is less pronounced) with a very similar composition, showing a Dionysian scene.
For an extensive introduction into Samian Ware, see Margaret Bulmer, An Introduction to Roman Samian Ware (Denbigh 1980). Especially, see pages 43ff for the Barbotine technique and hunt scenes on Samian ware. Fig 43 shows a very similar hunt scene, however on a Kantharos.
A thermoluminescence analysis performed by Kotalla Laboratory in November 2015 (analysis Nr. 03B 101115) has confirmed the age of the vessel to be 2000 years (+/- 25%), which perfectly matches with the dating based on the style of the vessel.
Acquired 2021 in a British auction house. Ex Austrian private collection. Ex Gorny & Mosch Auction 252 (December 2017), Lot. 224. Ex Austrial private collection S.M., acquired 1986 at Galerie Schönbrunn, Vienna, Austria.
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