Magna Graecia, Southern Italy, Campania, ca. 360 to 340 BCE. A lovely wheel-thrown ceramic fish plate of a classic pinax or pinakion (meaning "tablet" for its shape) form with a trio of fish painted via the red-figure technique with added fugitive white and black details, the three sea creatures swimming around a central garum (fish sauce) recess with a concave red border. The perimeter of the downturned rim is adorned with a fine band of spiraling waves; the entire dimpled disk form is elevated on a raised pedestal foot. Size: 7.125" W x 2.625" H (18.1 cm x 6.7 cm).
Fish plates were initially produced in Athens during the late fifth century BCE characterized by fish with bellies oriented towards the outside rim of the plate. While in Athens the palette was limited to a red clay fabric and black gloss slip with only rare uses of white overpainting, later examples from Greek settlers in Southern Italy (Taranto, Paestum, Capua, and Cumae) were more colorful with added white and yellow pigments. The South Italian fish plates also departed from Attic examples in that they were characterized by decoration in which the fish's bellies were oriented inwards towards the sauce cup at the center of the plate, as we see in this example.
A stylistically similar example hammered for GBP 6,250 ($8,329.28) at Christie's, London Antiquities Auction (sale 12239, July 6, 2016, lot 70).
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Artemis Gallery; ex-private New Jersey, USA collection; ex-private Texas, USA collection, acquired in the 1980s
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Plate and foot repaired from several large pieces with some areas of restoration, resurfacing, and overpainting, and light adhesive residue along break lines. Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age as expected, small nicks to foot, underside, rim, and top, and fading and some overpainting to pigmentation. Light earthen and mineral deposits along underside. Old inventory sticker on underside of foot.