About this artwork
This footed plate was made to serve succulent morsels of grilled seafood, like the fish, mollusks, and other marine creatures that are painted on its surface. Greece and Italy are peninsulas projecting into seas brimming with marine life. A primary source of protein, seafood was a basic staple of the ancient Mediterranean diet; it remains so today.
Keen observers of their subjects, ancient vase painters so accurately captured the shapes and markings of the fish they depicted that it is possible to identify most of them by species. This example is decorated with two pairs of large fish. A scallop attached to an outer band of a decorative pattern in the center separates a gilt head, on the left, from a fish known as king of the mullets, on the right. Opposite them is a lettered perch confronting a scorpion fish. Details of their anatomy were drawn with dilute glaze. Around them are shells, a small fish, and other creatures. A running wave pattern around the central concavity, with a gently sloped floor for collecting juices or serving sauces, recalls the sea, the source of the bounty.
- Ancient Greek
- Fish Plate
- Athens (Object made in)
- 400 BCE–370 BCE
- terracotta, decorated in the red-figure technique
- 5.1 × 34 × 34 cm (2 × 13 3/8 × 13 3/8 in.)
- Gift of Philip D. Armour and Charles L. Hutchinson