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Stunning Greek Ceramic Lekanis - Woman & Deer

Greek colonies, Southern Italy, Apulia, ca. 325 BCE. A lekanis with a large, flat knob on its lid and a foot of similar shape, creating a wonderfully symmetrical vessel. The base has been glazed a glossy black on its interior and exterior, with only small, vertical red lines around its upper body providing decoration. Two elaborate horizontal handles project from either side of the vessel, which stands on a round, diminutive foot. The lid features a scene of a woman on her knees, reaching dramatically towards a seated deer; another deer faces away from the woman. Flourishes, floral motifs, and wave forms surround them on the short sides and broad shoulder of the lid. A huge, doorknob-shaped handle - slightly wider in diameter than the foot, projecting higher than the foot is tall - rises from the center of the lid. On its upper face is a painted, abstract symbol inspired by sea life. Size: 9.25" W x 4.95" H (23.5 cm x 12.6 cm)

Lidded lekanides were cosmetic containers, often given by fathers to brides on their wedding day. This is an unusual example, because most feature generic motifs, usually the lady of fashion. Instead, this example has a scene that seems to tell a story - Who is the woman? Are the deer associated with the goddess Artemis, who was associated with the animals? Who was this vessel made for? Did the woman who received it have a particular penchant for deer or Artemis? All of these questions are fun to ponder as you look at this lovely and unique piece.

Condition: Lid repaired from multiple pieces. Repairs are well done and almost impossible to see, with very thin areas of overpaint along the break lines. Iridescent surface from age. Old collection label on underside. Body has also been repaired from multiple pieces, with some pitting on the interior. Pitted areas of interior have been overpainted with black but original pigment with iridescence visible on much of the surface. Old collection label on underside.

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

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