Fragment of an Oil Vessel (balsamarium or askos) in the Form of a Comedic Head, 300 BCE-300 CE
Hellenistic or Roman
3 × 2 ¼ × 1 ¾ in. (7.6 × 5.7 × 4.4 cm)
3-D Object/Sculpture
1972-62.14 DJ

1972 62 14 dj 20190529 002c v01 m
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Most likely part of an oil vessel (either a balsamarium or an askos), this figure’s spout and head are all that remain. Small anthropomorphic vessels were popular in the Hellenistic and Roman periods (300 BCE–300 CE) in Egypt, from where this is presumed to originate. Portions of the whitewash are still visible on the surface, as well as areas of brown or red pigments. The dramatic and exaggerated facial features may identify him as stock character from New Comedy, a type of Greek drama that included caricatures of people from daily life and society.  

This fragmentary vessel was acquired by the Menil Collection as part of a large group of terracottas, some of which were once part of the collection of Dr. Daniel Marie Fouquet (1850–1914). This piece, however, does not appear in any of the associated publications and cannot be confirmed as being owned by Dr. Fouquet.