Ancient Greece, Hellenistic Period, perhaps made in Macedonia, ca. 3rd to 2nd century CE. A wheel-thrown terracotta pyxis used for holding personal trinkets and other petite items. The lower body has a broad rim atop a flared foot as well as a tall neck meant to receive the bell-shaped lid, and the rim surrounding the lid enables it to be easily removed. The bowl-slipped body features a relief bust of a goddess, perhaps Aphrodite, encircles with incised concentric arches that mimic flower petals, and incised rings adorn the rims of the upper and lower bodies. Formed via the Hellenistic painted slipware "West-Slope" technique, the brown-slipped body exhibits faint traces of fugitive white pigment which created three rings around the lid body as well as palmettes between the concentric arches on top. Size (w/ lid): 4.125" W x 3.9" H (10.5 cm x 9.9 cm)
According to the curatorial team at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, " . . . the so-called 'West-Slope" technique [is] named after the site on the Acropolis hill in Athens where pottery of this type was first identified. Distinguishing hallmarks of the technique are the use of incision, added white, and decoration with a dilute slip that produced a superposed red, pink, or orange color on top of the black-glaze ground." They also explain how pxyides like this example were perhaps, regarding their region or origin, "made in Macedonia, since other vessels with similar motifs have been found in tombs from this region. In addition to the crisply incised design on the body, the sculptured additions recall metallic prototypes that reflect the Macedonian taste for luxury items in gold and silver."
For a strikingly similar example with sculpted lion legs on the lower body and incised details on the lid walls, please see The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 1979.76a, b.
Provenance: private Dere Family collection, New York City, New York, USA; private Orange County, California, USA collection, acquired before 2000
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Minor nicks and abrasions to foot, neck, lower rim, upper rim, and goddess, with fading to slip and fugitive pigment, and softening to some finer details, otherwise intact and excellent. Light earthen deposits and faint but noticeable remains of original fugitive pigment.