Greece, Athens (Attic), ca. 5th century BCE. A petite Attic, red-figure lekythos depicting a draped female standing in profile with a pine-tipped thyrsus to the right. Above is a register of running Greek key motifs, and adorning the shoulder are two fretted bands. The vessel presents a classic form comprised of a tapered cylindrical body with a planar shoulder, a tubular neck, a thick cup-shaped spout with a flat rim, and an applied strap handle joining neck to shoulder, all upon a tiered discoid base. A stunning piece, replete with an elegant form and a lovely decorative/iconographic program. Size: 4.875" H (12.4 cm)
Perhaps the most exciting innovation in Greek vase painting was the red-figure technique, invented in Athens around 525 BCE and beloved by other artists of Magna Graecia. The red-figure technique allowed for much greater flexibility as opposed to the black-figure technique, for now the artist could use a soft, pliable brush rather than a rigid metal graver to delineate interior details, play with the thickness of the lines, as well as build up or dilute glazes to create chromatic effects. The painter would create figures by outlining them in the natural red of the vase, and then enrich these figural forms with black lines to suggest volume, at times perspectival depth, and movement, bringing those silhouettes and their environs to life.
Lekythoi were used for storing oil used for a wide variety of purposes in the Classical World. While larger examples were usually designated for keeping olive oil, smaller, more delicate examples like this one were reserved for the bath to store precious unguents of sweet and floral aromas. Lekythoi were also popular grave gifts. This beautiful vessel was most likely created for an elegant lady's toilette, and, later, to mark her tomb.
Provenance: private Alabama, USA collection; ex-Roy Green collection
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Chips to base and rim. Repairs/restoration to neck and handle. Expected surface wear with scuffs/abrasions as shown. Collection label on underside of base.