1902 Encyclopedia > Terra Cotta

Terra Cotta




TERRA-COTTA.1 Strictly speaking this name is applicable to all objects made of baked clay, from the in rudest brick to the finest piece of pottery, but it usually has a more limited meaning, to denote fictile objects which do not come under the head of pottery, such as statuettes and busts; and in its architectural use it specially implies the finer sorts of decorative clay-work, to the exclusion of common building bricks. In ancient times, especially among the Greeks and Romans, terra-cotta was employed for an immense variety of purposes, from the commonest objects of everyday use to the most elaborate and ambitious works of art, such as colossal statues and groups. Though the natural colour and surface of the burnt clay are generally very pleasing in tone and texture, it seems to have been universally the custom in classical times to cover the terra-cotta completely with a thin white coating, which formed an absorbent ground for the further application of colour. For internal work, except in rare instances, these colours were mixed with a tempera medium, and applied after the day had been fired. They were therefore not true ceramic colours ; and pigments of great variety and brilliance could be employed, as they had not to undergo the severe ordeal of the kiln. For external work, such as that shown in fig. 5, only earth pigments such as ochres and lime were used, and the colours were fired,

No branch of archaeology has during the last dozen years or so developed so rapidly as that of Greek terra-cotta figures ; on this most fascinating subject an astonishingly large mass of literature has been published in Germany and France.2 The discovery of this new world of Greek art began practically in 1873, with the first excavations in the tombs of Tanagra, a Boeotian town on the high road from Athens to the north, which brought to light a number of very beautiful terra-cotta statuettes.3 Subsequent excavations at Corinth , Smyrna, Cyme, Tarentum, the Cyrenaica, and many other places also yielded a vast nuniber of terra-cotta figures of various dates and styles. By far the greater number belong to the second half of the 4th century B.C.; but examples of an earlier



FOOTNOTES (page 190)

(1) An Italian word meaning literally "baked earth."

(2) See list at the end of the present article.

(3) See Bull. Com. Inst. Arch., 1874, p. 120. Many thousand tombs have been opened at Tanagra, partly cut in the rock and partly built of masonry. The statuettes were either arranged round the body or packed in large vases. The costume of the female figures is the same as that described by classical writers as being peculiar to the neighbouring city of Thebes. The finest of the Tanagra figures are from 8 to 9 inches high.



date are not wanting, not only of figures in the round, but also of reliefs, which appear to have been largely used for the decoration of the flat surfaces of walls, and friezes. The earliest of all date from a quite prehistoric period, and are mostly small idol-like figures of the rudest possible form, having an almost shapeless trunk with stick-like projections for the limbs, and the breasts and eyes roughly indicated by round dots. They are usually decorated with coarse stripes or cheques in ochre colours. Examples of these have been found at Hissarlik (Troad), in Cyprus and other islands, and in the citadel of Tiryns in 1884-85 by Dr Schliemann and Dr Dörpfeld. Later but still very archaic figures, 2 or 3 inches high, have been exhumed in many parts of the Aegean Islands ; some of these are stiff seated figures of deities—links between Oriental and Hellenic art, like the statues of the Sacred Way at Branchidae (south of Miletus). Comparatively few specimens exist of the best period of Greek art—the 5th century.1 A relief in the Louvre (about 18 by 12 inches) with a pierced background, dating from the first half of the 5th century, represents two female mourners at a sepulchral stele,—one standing and the other seated; under the foot of the latter is inscribed A_EKTP. On the other side of the stele are two youths (the Dioscuri) standing by a horse. The whole design is simple, but very graceful, and the modelling is skilfully treated in very low relief. The colouring—blue, red, white, and dark brown—is well preserved. This relief was pressed in a mould, and was intended to be attached to a wall, probably that of a tomb, as a votive offering to the dead.2

In most cases the terra-cotta figures and reliefs occur in or close by tombs, but it is only in comparatively rare instances that the subjects represented have any reference to death. Another large class have been found in the vicinity of temples, and are probably votive offerings, such as the small statuettes of horses from the acropolis of Athens, now in the Louvre. In other cases, as at Halicarnassus, great quantities of small figures were buried under a temple, probably to purify the site, as was done in Egypt under the later dynasties, when many hundred figures of bronze were sometimes buried under one building. Owing to the fact that the statuettes found scattered in and round tombs have frequently their heads broken off, Pottier and Reinach have suggested that they were brought as offerings to the dead and their heads were broken off by the mourners at the side of the tomb. Rayet believes that this practice was a sort of survival of the custom of sacrificing female and boy slaves at the tombs of the dead. In many cases, however, the figures are intact, and it is probable that many of the tombs were broken open and rifled long ago, which would explain the mutilated and scattered condition of the figures. The tombs of Tanagra have yielded by far the richest finds of these figures, the specimens being very remarkable for their beauty. These exquisite statuettes do not (in most cases) represent deities or heroic personages, but the homely every-day life of the Greeks, treated with great simplicity and evident realism: they are in plastic art what in painting would be called genre,3 and in their strong human interest and naturalistic pathos bring us in closer contact with the life and personalities of the past than any more ambitious style of art could possibly do. Moreover, they prove more clearly even than the great plastic works in bronze and marble how deeply a feeling for beauty and a knowledge of art must have penetrated the whole mass of the people. Their immense number shows that they must have been far from costly, within the reach of every one, and certainly not the production of any famous sculptors. Nevertheless, sketchy as they are in treatment and often faulty in detail, they are in pose, in motive, and in general effect works of the highest beauty, full of the most inimitable grace, and evidently the production of men in whom the best qualities of the sculptor were innate by a sort of natural birthright. Several small figures from Myrina (Mysia) have the artist’s name inscribed on them; but signatures of this sort are rare.4

It is impossible to describe the many subjects treated. Only a few examples can be mentioned. Among single figures the most frequent are those of girls standing or seated in an immense variety of pose, and with plentiful drapery arranged in countless methods, showing the great taste with which a Greek lady could dispose the folds of her ample pallium, whether it hung in graceful loops or was wound closely round the figure or formed a hood-like veil over the head. In some the lady holds a leaf-shaped fan, or is looking in a circular mirror, or holds a ball ready for the game. Many have a strange broad hat, probably of straw, which does not fit on the head, but must have



FOOTNOTES (page (191)

(1) A good example of a terra-cotta relief of the first part of the 5th century B.C. is figured in vol. ii. p. 352.

(2) Some very beautiful fragments of reliefs in terra-cotta are preserved in the museums of the Louvre, of Copenhagen, and the Kircheriano in Rome. These represent on a small scale parts of Phidias’s Panathenaic frieze, which have all the appearance of being works of the 5th century B.C., but may possibly be forgeries or Roman copies ; see Waldstein, Art of Pheidias, Cambridge, 1885.

(3) In some the most homely sort of genre is represented,—a girl milking a cow, a cook or a barber at his work, &c. Even portrait figures occur, as, for example, a wonderfully lifelike group of a man and his wife in the collection of Mr Ionides, recently lent to the South Kensington Museum.

(4) See Gaz. des B.Arts, xxxiii., 1886, p. 278.



been fastened by a pin to the hair or veil. One very beautiful motive is that of a girl playing with an infant Eros, who flies to her for shelter, and is received with welcome half tinged with dread. Fig. 1 shows a very lovely statuette of this kind, now in the Hermitage Palace. A favourite subject is taken from a game in which one girl carries her playmate on her back,—a motive which, though difficult to treat in sculpture, is managed very gracefully in terra-cotta. Other very lovely groups are Aphrodite suckling the baby Eros, or with more than one cupid hovering round her. A very beautiful example (see fig. 2) occurs in the South Kensington Museum (from the Castellani sale). It represents a half-nude figure of Aphrodite reclining on a couch, with two cupids behind holding up a veil, which was coloured blue to form a background to the creamy white of Aphrodite’s body.

The Tanagra and other figures are all formed of thin pieces of soft clay pressed into a mould, usually formed in two halves and then stuck together; and they are made hollow so as not to warp and crack in the firing, and have a hole at the back for the escape of moisture during that process. The head is solid and was formed in a separate mould, as were also any accessories, such as fans or mirrors, and arms if they extend away from the body. Replicas of the same figure are often varied by having different heads or accessories; three or four examples have been found from the same mould. After the whole was put together it was usually touched up and finished with modelling tools. The colour was applied after baking: a coating of creamy white lime or chalk all over served as the flesh tint and also as a good ground for the other colours. The hair of the females is always of a rich auburn red, such as the Venetians were so fond of painting in the 16th century; blue was touched on the eyes and crimson on the lips. Drapery, if not white, was usually rose-colour or blue, often with a fringe or bands of gold on the border. Necklaces, earrings, and other ornaments were generally gilt, the gold leaf being applied over a slightly raised surface of slip, as on the Greek vases. Similar examples have been found in tombs at Thebes, at Thespiae, and round Athens. Some of the Attica figures are covered, not with the usual non-ceramic colours, but with a real white enamel, the vitrified surface of which is very often slightly decomposed; further coloured decoration was in some cases added over this enamel.

A number of places in the west of Asia Minor have yielded large quantities of terra-cotta figures, very similar in size and technique to those of Tanagra, but belonging for the most part to quite a different school of sculpture. Unlike the Tanagra figures, which are rather pictorial in style and deal with genre subjects, those from Smyrna, Cyme, Myrina, and other places in Asia Minor are thoroughly sculpturesque in design, and are frequently miniature reproductions of large statues or groups (see fig. 3). Many of them stand on moulded pedestals, while the Tanagra figures have only a thin slab of clay as a base. The average size of both classes is from 6 to 10 inches high. Very elaborate groups with three or four figures often occur. Dionysiac and Bacchanal subjects are frequently chosen, or scenes from sacred mythology, such as the labours of Heracles.1 These also mostly date from the 4th century B.C., and the statuettes often appear to be copies from sculpture of the school of Praxiteles or Scopas. One instance is the fine nude figure of Eros as a youth leaning against a cippus, holding a bronze arrow in his hand, in the collection of M. de Branteghem, now in Rome.2 The whole of it was gilt, which was frequently the case with the Asia Minor statuettes, but rarely so in those of Tanagra.3 A very beautiful figure of a winged Victory in the same collection (from the Castellani sale) presents the same motive as the colossal Victory of Samothrace (in the Louvre) ; it supplies the missing right hand, which in the terra-cotta contains a bunch of roses. The drapery of this figure is blue, mottled, or shot with gold. Other figures, from their heights being arranged in even gradations, seem to be copies from some large pedimental sculpture. Unfortunately little is yet known of the various fabriques of these Asia Minor figures, as in most cases their provenance is very doubtful.4 The Lecuyer collection possessed some groups with several figures forming important compositions. One of these shows two female mourners at a tomb, and a warrior clad in full armour with his horse. The most remarkable group (see fig. 4) is that of a soul led by Hermes Psychopompus to the bark of Charon, who is represented as a bent aged man. Hermes, a graceful nude figure, gently urges the shrinking soul—a draped female figure—to the boat, at the brink of the rush-grown Styx. The whole scene is imagined with much tender grace and real pathos, though not highly finished in its details. One of the most important terra-cotta figures yet discovered has recently been brought to England from Smyrna. It is a very beautiful copy of the Diadumenos of Polycletus, which in the details of its modelling reproduces some characteristics of the later school of Praxiteles. The forearms and the legs below the knee are lost; but in breadth



FOOTNOTES (page 192)

(1) Fine examples of all these existed in the collection of M. Lecuyer, which is now dispersed (see Lenormant, Coll. Lecuyer de terre-cuites, Paris, 1884, which is well illustrated with photographs).

(2) In a few other examples objects of bronze are placed in the hands of the figures.

(3) The lovely series of little figures of dancing cupids from Tanagra, some of which are in the Louvre and others in the South Kensington Museum, were wholly gilt, but the larger statuettes of Tanagra appear to have had gold applied only for special ornaments.

(4) For many reasons both finders and dealers usually wish to keep secret where valuable finds are made. In most museums the labels simply repeat the dealer’s account (for want of better information), so that the statement of the provenance must usually be accepted with caution.



of modelling and grandeur of style this little figure, which was only about 14 inches high when perfect, has the effect of a much larger statue, and it is a real masterpiece of Greek plastic art.1 In the neighbourhood of Smyrna and Ephesus a large number of caricature figures have been exhumed, some of which are modelled with a wonderful feeling for humour.2 These strange figures have attenuated limbs, large heads, flapping ears, and goggle eyes. Some play on musical instruments; others represent actors; and one in the De Branteghem collection is a caricature of a discobolus in almost the attitude of Myron’s celebrated statue.

A very different class of statuettes has recently come to light in the Cyrenaica, on the northern coast of Africa. Many of these are nude female dancers wearing an elaborate stephanos-like head-dress. They are realistic in modelling and very ungraceful in pose,—a striking contrast to the exquisite taste of the Tanagra and most of the Asia Minor figures. Recent excavations in the tombs of Corinth have produced a large number of fine terra-cottas, ranging in date over a very long period. Another and artistically very perfect class of figures is being dug up from among the tombs of Tarentum. Some of these belong to the finest period of Greek art, probably about 400 B.C., and others are even earlier. Many are not statuettes, but merely small busts of heroic style, and of the highest sculpturesque beauty. They are certainly not portraits, and do not appear to represent deities. It has been suggested that they are idealized representations of ancestors, whose commemoration, in some places, formed an important cult; but their real meaning must for the present remain uncertain. Many thousand votive figures and reliefs in clay have been found within the temeni of the temples of the Chthonian deities at Tarentum and elsewhere. It seems to have been customary for the priests periodically to clear out of the temples the broken or too numerous offerings which were then buried within the enclosure; whole series arranged chronologically in groups have been-discovered buried in separate holes.

In addition to statuettes and reliefs, terra-cotta was used by the Greeks for various minor ornamental purposes. Delicately moulded necklaces and pendants for ears were stamped out in clay and then thickly covered with gold leaf; this produced a very rich effect at a small cost; many fine examples are preserved in the Louvre. Children’s toys, such as miniature horses and chariots, and dolls with movable limbs of terra-cotta fastened with wooden pegs, occur in many tombs.

On a larger scale terra-cotta was adapted by the Greeks to important architectural ornamentation. Many fine examples have been found at Olympia and among the ruined temples of Selinus. In some cases the main cornices of the building were simply blocked out square in stone, and then covered with moulded plaques of terra-cotta, carefully formed to fit on and round the angles of the block. The large cymatium which forms the upper member of the cornice is curved upwards, so as to prevent the rain water from dripping all along the edge; and at intervals it is pierced by ornamental clay pipes, which project like a mediaeval gargoyle. In some examples from Selinus the cymatium is pierced with a beautiful open pattern of lotus leaf (see fig. 5). The greatest care was taken in fitting these applied mouldings where each plaque joined the next, and especially in making them fit closely on to the stone blocks, in which rebates were cut to receive each plaque. The whole surface of the terra-cotta is covered with elaborate painted ornaments of great beauty, in ochre colours applied on a white ground, as in the case of the statuettes. These beautiful temple decorations are well illustrated by Dörpfeld and others in Die Verwendung von Terra-cotten, Berlin, 1881. Though no complete examples of terra-cotta statuary now exist, it is certain that the Greeks produced it on a large scale and of the highest class of workmanship. Pliny (H.N., xxxv. 36) mentions that certain statues of Hercules Musagetes and the Nine Muses were "opera figlina," executed by the painter Zeuxis. These were brought from Athens by M. Fulvius Nobilior, and placed in the temple of Hercules Musagetes, which adjoined the Porticus Octaviae in the Campus Martius of Rome. Other and earlier examples of clay statues are mentioned by Pausanias.

Among the Etruscans the use of clay for important sculpture was very frequent,— painted terra-cotta or bronze almost excluding marble and stone. An important example was the clay quadriga on the pediment of the temple of Capitoline Jupiter, which, according to one legend, was brought from Veii by Tarquinius Superbus. This existed till the destruction of the temple by fire in 83 B.C., and was considered one of the seven precious relies on which the safety of the Roman state depended. The great statue of Jupiter in the central cella of this triple temple was also of terra-cotta, and was said to be the work of an Etruscan sculptor from Fregenae. Vitruvius mentions "signa fictilia" as being specially Etruscan. Many other statues in the early temples of Rome were made of the same material. Among the existing specimens of Etruscan terra-cotta the chief are large sarcophagi, with recumbent portrait effigies of the deceased on the top, the whole being of clay, decorated with painting. Fine examples exist in the Louvre and the British Museum; a good specimen from the latter collection is figured in vol. viii., plate VIII. The Museo Gregoriano in the Vatican possesses some very beautiful friezes of a later date—about the 4th century B.C.—when native Etruscan art had been replaced by that of Greece. These friezes are very rich and elaborate, with heads and scroll foliage in very salient relief. Some of them have at intervals cleverly moulded heads of satyrs, painted a brilliant crimson.3

Another very elaborate application of terra-cotta is shown in the numerous large asci, covered with statuettes, which are found in the tombs of Canosa (Canusium), Cales, and



FOOTNOTES (page 193)

(1) See Journ. of Hellenic Studies, vol. vi., 1886, p. 243.

(2) The British Museum possesses some fine caricatures of actors from Canino, very skilfully modelled and of a peculiar fabrique.

(3) The use of this strongly glowing red is almost peculiar to Hellenic Italy ; the other colours used there were much the same as those of Greece itself. The same magnificent crimson often occurs on oenochoae, moulded into the form of satyrs’ heads, which are found in the tombs of Magna Graecia.



many parts of Magna Graecia. The statuettes are some what similar in style and colouring to the Tanagra figures, and date from about the same period (4th century B.C.), but are not equal to them as works of art; they are also usually crowded together in a somewhat awkward manner.1 The British Museum is specially rich in these elaborate terra-cottas ; few of the colours used appear to be true ceramic pigments.

As in other branches of art, the Romans closely copied the Greeks in their wide application of terra-cotta for statues, reliefs, and architectural ornaments. A large number of beautiful Graeco-Roman reliefs exist, many having designs evidently copied from earlier Greek sculpture. Berlin, the Louvre, the British Museum, and many places in Italy possess fine collections. Friezes with beautiful reliefs 12 to 18 inches deep often occur, little inferior in execution to the earlier Greek work. Many subjects of great interest are represented : a very fine plaque in the Louvre has the scene of Orestes taking refuge at the sacred omphalos at Delphi, which is represented as a conical stone about 3 feet high, hung round with ornamental festoons made of gold.2 These terra-cottas belong to the early period of the empire; in the 2d century A.D. they became much coarser and less Greek in style, like all the sculpture of that time. A plaque in the Louvre, which represents a chariot-race in the circus, bears its maker’s stamp, L.S. ER. At the end of the first and in the early part of the 2d century A.D. the use of terra-cotta for architectural adornment was carried to a high point of perfection in Rome. Many buildings of this period have the most elaborate decoration moulded in clay and fitted together with wonderful neatness. Not only enriched cornices and friezes were made of terra-cotta, but even Corinthian columns with their elaborate acanthus capitals. In all cases the whole surface appears to have been covered with a thin coating of "opus albarium" and then decorated with colours and even gold. The best existing examples in Rome are the Amphitheatrum Castrense, many tombs on the Via Latina, and the barracks of the VIIth cohort of the guards (vigiles) in the Trastevere. But few examples exist of the large Roman terra-cotta sculpture; the best are some seated female figures from tombs, small life-size, in the Capitoline museum,—works of great beauty and very skilfully fired without cracks or warping. The British Museum also contains fine specimens of terra-cotta sculpture on a large scale, especially the torso of a nude male figure (Hercules), some terminal figures of Bacchus, and a beautiful statue of Urania (see fig. 6).

In the 14th and more especially in the 15th century terra-cotta was adapted in various parts of Europe to the most magnificent and elaborate architectural purposes. In Germany the mark of Brandenburg is specially rich in terra-cotta work.3 The church of St Catherine in the town of Brandenburg is decorated in the most lavish way with delicate tracery and elaborate string-courses and cornices, enriched with foliage, all modelled in clay; the town-hall is another instance of the same use of terra-cotta. At Tangermünde, the church of St Stephen and other buildings of the beginning of the 15th century are wonderful examples of this method of decoration ; the north door of St Stephen’s especially is a masterpiece of rich and effective moulding. In northern Italy this use of terra-cotta was carried to an equally high point of perfection.4 The western facade of the cathedral of Monza is a work of the most wonderful richness and minute elaboration, wholly executed in clay, in the latter part of the 14th century. The cathedral of Crema, the communal buildings of Piacenza, and S. Maria delle Grazie in Milan are striking examples of the extreme splendour of effect that can be obtained by terra-cotta work. The Certosa near Pavia has a most gorgeous specimen of the early part of the 16th century ; the two cloisters are especially magnificent. Pavia itself is very rich in terra-cotta decoration, especially the ducal palace and the churches of S. Francesco and S. Maria del Carmine. Some delicate work exists among the mediaeval buildings of Rome, dating from the 14th and 16th century, as, for example, the rich cornices on the south aisle of S. Maria in Ara Coeli, c. 1300 ; the front of S. Cosimato in Trastevere, built c. 1490; and a once very magnificent house, near the Via di Tordinone, which dates from the 14th century. The most important application of terra-cotta in mediaeval Italy was to statuary—reliefs, busts, and even groups of many life-sized figures-during the 15th and 16th centuries. Much of the Florentine terra-cotta sculpture of the 15th century is among the most beautiful plastic work the world has ever seen, especially that by Jacopo della Quercia, Donatello, and the sculptors of the next generation.5 For life, spirit, and realistic truth, combined with sculpturesque breadth, these pieces are masterpieces of invention and manipulation. The portrait busts are perfect models of iconic sculpture (see fig. 7). In some respects the use of burnt clay for sculpture has great advantages over that of marble : the soft clay is easily and rapidly moulded into form while the sculptor’s thought is fresh in his mind, and thus terra-cottas, often possess a spirit and vigour which can hardly be reproduced in the laboriously finished marble. These



FOOTNOTES (page 194)

(1) A very large ascus from Canosa in the British Museum is decorated with no less than five statuettes of women and Victories, two large masks of Medusa, and six projecting figures of horses.

(2) Compare a similar representation of the omphalos ona Greek vase illustrated by Jahn, Vasenbilder, Hamburg, 1839.

(3) See Adler, Mittelalterliche Backstein-Bauwerke, Berlin, 1862.

(4) See Gruner, Terra-cotta Architecture of N. Italy, London, 1867.

(5) The South Kensington Museum possesses a very fine collection of Florentine terra-cottas of the best period.



qualities are specially remarkable in the best works of the Della Robbia family (See ROBBIA). In the 16th century a more realistic style was introduced, and this was heightened by the custom of painting the figures in oil colours. Many very clever groups of this class were produced by Ambrogio Foppa (Caradosso) for S. Satiro at Milan and by Guido Mazzoni and Begarelli (1479-1565) for churches in Modena. These terra-cotta sculptures are unpleasing in colour and far too pictorial in style; but those of Begarelli were enthusiastically admired by Michelangelo.1 Much fine terra-cotta work was produced in France during the 16th century, partly under Italian influence,—many sculptors from northern and central Italy having settled in France, especially under the patronage of Francis I. In the same century a similar Italian influence prevailed largely throughout Spain, and very clever works were produced there, remarkable for their vivid realism and deceptive pictorial style. In England the elaborate use of terra-cotta did not come into vogue till the early part of the 16th century, and then only in certain counties. Essex possesses the finest examples, such as those of the manor house of Layer Marney, built in the reign of Henry VIII. The richly moulded windows and battlements of this house are very un-English in style, and it seems probable that all the terra-cotta decorations were made in Holland or Flanders. A richly decorated terra-cotta tomb with recumbent effigy exists in the church of Layer Marney; and in the collegiate church of Wymondham in Norfolk there are very large and elaborate sedilia with lofty canopied niches, all of clay, which appear to be of the same date and fabrique as the Essex examples. Most of the terra-cotta sculpture in England, such as that by Torrigiano of which fragments exist in Westminster Abbey, the colossal heads of the Caesars at Hampton Court, and the recumbent effigy in the Chapel of the Rolls,2 were the work of Italian sculptors, mostly from Florence, who were invited to England in the reigns of Henry VII. and Henry VIII.

Of late years terra-cotta for architectural purposes has been employed for some very important buildings in London, such as the natural history museum at South Kensington, the Albert Hall, and the front of the other museum in the Exhibition Road. The durability of wellfired clay, its dense texture, pleasant colour, and smooth surface make it specially suitable to an atmosphere laden with acids and soot as is that of London. The surface resists decomposition, and affords little hold to the minute particles of carbon. The great improvements which have been made in the manufacture of terra-cotta will probably lead to its more extensive use. The great difficulty is to retain the sharpness of impression given by the mould, and above all to avoid the uneven shrinkage and warping which is so liable to take place when it is fired in large pieces. Any want of truth in the lines of a long cornice becomes painfully apparent, and each moulded block of a door or window-jamb must fit accurately on to the next one, or else the line of moulding becomes broken and irregular. Terra-cotta is now made of many different colours, a rich red and a warm ochre or cream colour being the most pleasant to the eye. In order to avoid defects it is necessary that the clay should contain a large proportion of powdered silica, and that the whole mass should be thoroughly homogeneous. The method by which these ends are secured is much the same as that employed in the making of pottery (seo vol. xix. p. 642 sq.).

The most important public collections are in the Louvre, the British Museum, the museums of Berlin and Athens, and a few fine specimens exist in the South Kensington Museum. The splendid Sabouroff collection is now in the Hermitage Palace at St Petersburg. Many museums in Italy—such as those it Florence, Perugia, Capua, Rome, and other places—contain many examples from Etruria and Magna Graecia. A large number of the finest of the Tanagra figures and the like are in private hands; some are illustrated in the works mentioned in the following list ; that of Prince Liechtenstein at Vienna is one of the finest.3

Literature.—Léon Heuzey, "Recherches sur les figurines cle femmes voilées," in Mon. assoc. des études grecques, Paris, 1874; Id., "Rech. sur un groupe de Praxitéle, . . . en terre-cuite," in Gaz. des B. Arts, September 1875; Id., "Rech. sur les terres cuites grecques," in Mon. assoc, des étud. grec., 1876; Id., Les origines des terres cuites, Paris, 1882 ; Id., Catalogue des figurines antiques du Louvre, Pais, 1882-83; Id , "Papposiléne et le dieu Bes," in Bull. Cor. Hell., 1884, pp. 161-167; Fröhner, Les terres cuites d’Asie-Mineure, Paris, 1879-81 ; Id., (Cat. de la Coll. Lecuye,, Paris, 1883, and Cat. de la Coll. Barre, Paris, 1878; Kekulé, Griechische Thonfiguren aus Tanagra, Berlin, 1878; Id., Griechische Terracotten vom Berliner Museum, Berlin 1878; Id., Die antiken Terracotten von Pompeii, Stuttgart, 1880 ; Rayet, Monuments de l’art antique, Paris, 1884, Vol. ii. pp. 74-90; Id., "Sur une plaque estampée," in Bull. Cor. Hell., 1879, pp. 329-333; Id., Cat. de la Coll. Rayet, 1880; Id., "Les figurines de Tanagra (Louvre)," in Gaz. des B.-Arts, 1875, Id., "L’art grec an Trocadéro," in Gaz. Des B.-Arts, 1878 ; Furtwaengler, La Coll. Sabouroff, Paris, 1882-85, splendidly illustrated in colours; Martha, Cat. des figurines du musée d’ Athenes, 1880; Id., "Figurines corinthiennes en terre cuite," in Bull. Car. Hell., 1879, pp. 29-42; Id., "Figurines de Tanagra," ibid., 1880, pp. 71-75 ; Pottier, "Terres cuites Chypriotes," ibid., 1879, pp. 86-94 ; Pottier and Reinach, "Fouilles de Myrina," ibid., various articles in vols. for 1882-83; Paul Girard, "Nécropoles de la Gréce du Nord," ibid., 1879, pp. 211-221; Max. Collignon, "Plaque estampée de Santorin," ibid., 1881, pp. 436-438 ; Cesnola, Cyprus, London, 1877 ; Schliemann, Troy, Mycenae, and Tiryns; E. Curtius, Giebelgruppen aus Tanagra, Berlin, 1878; Delauney, "Terres cuites de Tanagra," in Revue de France, May and June 1878. An account of the first discovery of the Tanagra figures is given by Otto Lüders in Bull. Inst. Cor. Arch., 1874, p. 120; see also various articles in Gaz. Archéol., Archäol. Zeitung, and Mon. Inst. Arch. Rom. (especially vol. vi.). For the earlier known terra-cottas, see Panofka, Terracotten des k. Museums zu Berlin, 1842 ; Combe, Terra-cottas in the British Museum, London, 1810 ; and Gerhard, Monumenti figulini di Sicilia, Berlin, 1835. Other works have been already referred to. Clever but not quite satisfactory copies of the finest Tanagra and other figures are now made in Berlin and Vienna; they cost from twenty to thirty shillings each. (J.H.M.)




FOOTNOTES (page 195)

(1) See Vasari, ed. Le Monnier, xii. 281.

(2) This interesting building is now threatened with destruction.

(3) Very clever forgeries of terra-cotta are being manufactured, and in many cases real specimens have genuine heads which do not belong to them. The colouring has frequently been touched up and falsified while in the dealers’ hands. Even the celebrated Campana collection contained many clever forgeries of terra-cotta reliefs.








Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-14 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries