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Oinochoe (Pitcher)

Terracotta pitcher with a black glaze, faint stripes incised around its bulbous body.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Terracotta pitcher with a black glaze, faint stripes incised around its bulbous body.


550-500 BCE



About this artwork

This pitcher for wine is called an oinochoe, a combination of the Greek oînos, “wine” and khéō, “I pour”. The shiny black glaze is the result of a technique invented by the Etruscans, a powerful ancient civilization in ancient Italy - near modern day Tuscany - with whom the Greeks regularly traded. The glossy black pottery later known as Bucchero ware was made from the 7th century to the late 5th century BC. Produced for both domestic and funerary uses, Bucchero ware was popular locally and across the Mediterranean. Potters achieved the signature shiny black surface by firing the pottery in a reduced-oxygen kiln, where restricted ventilation caused the iron oxide in the coarse Tuscan clay to turn black. Before firing, the clay was burnished, or polished with a smooth stone, resulting in the sought-after sheen, which mimicked the gleam of bronze vessels.


Currently Off View


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Etruscan


Oinochoe (Pitcher)


Etruria (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 550 BCE–500 BCE


terracotta, Bucchero sottile ware


35.6 × 20.3 × 19.1 cm (14 × 8 × 7 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Philip D. Armour and Charles L. Hutchinson

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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