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Greek Attic White-Ground Lekythos

Ancient Greece, Athens (Attic), Classical Period, ca. late 6th to early 5th century BCE. A slender cylindrical vessel with a petite, flat foot, a thin neck rising to a flared, flat rim, a small strap handle, and a tapered body decorated with a chalky-white ground. The body exhibits five thin horizontal stripes - three near the shoulder and two near the base - with a lustrous black glaze embellishing areas of the foot, body, handle, and both the interior and exterior of the rim. The body most likely once presented a figural scene and/or fine-line decorative motif; however, any hand-painted imagery has worn away over time. A beautiful example of ancient Attic utilitarian craftsmanship! Size: 2.4" W x 7.5" H (6.1 cm x 19 cm).

Lekythos vases were among the various offerings and monuments paying tribute to the deceased in Athenian cemeteries. Lekythos vessels traditionally held oil and were decorated in the white ground technique from the middle until the end of the fifth century BCE. The term white ground relates to the light slip coating on the body and shoulder of the vase. Upon this background, motifs were drawn in outline and then hand painted in rich colors. The vast majority of these vessels were created for burial with the dead or to be offerings presented at their graves.

Condition: Vessel repaired from several large pieces with some new stabilizing material, resurfacing, and overpainting along break lines. Restoration to areas of upper body, shoulder, handle, and neck. Losses to details embellishing white-ground body. Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, small chips to foot, shoulder, and rim, with fading to pigmentation. Light earthen deposits and encrustations throughout.

Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection; ex-private Dr. Med. G. S. collection, Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany, 1958-2003; ex-Hans Piehler collection (1847-1961)

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