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Greek Attic Black Figure Lekythos - Quadriga

Ancient Greece, Athens (Attic), ca. 5th century BCE. A lovely Attic lekythos (oil vessel) of a traditional form with a slender, tall body, a tubular neck rising to a cup-shaped spout with a flat rim, and a single strap handle joining neck to shoulder, all upon a circular foot. The exterior walls are extensively decorated with a charioteer holding the reins of what appears to be a quadriga given the number of horse legs. Above this scene is a band of staggered dots underscored by two lines and a shoulder decorated with a band of frets above a band of attenuated strokes. Below the pictorial scene are striations above the black finish. Areas of the black glaze have developed a silvery iridescence. Size: 6.25" H (15.9 cm)

This is a very nice example of the black figure technique in which the figural and decorative motifs were applied with a slip that turned black during firing, while the background was left the natural color of the clay. The vase painter also took the time to incise the slip in order to delineate individual features and gestures, and to add some additional red pigment.

Ceramic production and painting took place in the northwest corner of Athens, in Kerameikos, where artisans created beautiful pottery as well as architectural decoration, roof tiles, and figurines. These were generally made on manually turned potter's wheels, and were either the product of one or two workers - there was no mass production. Athenian kilns were fueled by wood, and the temperature controlled the ultimate color of the pottery.

Condition: Spout/neck reattached. Nicks and abraded areas to rim and base. Surface wear to body with scuffs and abrasions here and there as shown.

Provenance: ex-private T.S. collection, San Diego County, California, USA, acquired between 25 and 40 years ago

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