The body of this amphora depicts a battle scene – Iolaus, Athena, Heracles, Cycnus (fallen), Ares, the mother of Cycnus, Phobos and a winged demon (Iris ?) – otherwise interpreted as a Gigantomachy, on account of the certain identification of Athena and Heracles. Two sphinxes leaning against each other are repeated on the neck.
The vessel forms part of the group of Etruscan vases attributed to the Painter of Micali, a conventional figure thus named in honour of the nineteenth century scholar Giuseppe Micali who was the first to publish an exhaustive series on the subject. The amphora constitutes one of the few examples in which this Etruscan painter takes on a mythological subject; his work appears very distant from the technique and rigour of the Attic masters of the same period, who nonetheless influenced it. The anatomies are generally approximate, the figures disproportionate, the gestures marked, the spaces reduced, and the figures appear to spring out, sometimes touching or overlapping. The graffiti used for outlines and internal details seem to linger in their ornamental effect; rapid fluid brushstrokes lend a certain vivacity and dynamism to the figures. This multiform personality, with its original and lively style, dominates the panorama of late-Archaic Etruscan art.