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Lot 0022
Greece, South Italian, probably Paestum, ca. 370 to 325 BCE. A fabulously well-preserved bell krater, a vessel for mixing water and wine, is decorated with well-executed red-figure paintings of Dionysus and a woman (a Maenad?) who appear to be at a drinking party (a symposion). Dionysus stands, naked and with a smooth face and muscular, youthful body, holding various objects, including what may be a thyrsos (a pine-cone tipped staff); the woman wears a flowing chiton girdled at the waist along with multiple bracelets; she has her curled hair pulled back behind a wreath and holds what appears to be a large plate of food. They stand atop a floor with a wave pattern, surrounded by columns and plants, with some small features like a fountain at Dionysus's feet and what looks like a small window above and behind the woman's head. Size: 9.5" W x 8.7" H (24.1 cm x 22.1 cm)

This krater was made to be used at a symposion or by someone aspiring to host one. In ancient Greek society, it was crucial to mix wine with water, as drinking undiluted wine was seen as the actions of a drunkard. This is a "plain style" red-figure bell krater, produced by the thousands in Apulian workshops - more than 10,000 vases have been catalogued by researchers. The "plain style" refers to bell kraters that have no more than four figures. Although the earliest bell kraters were made for elites, after the middle of the fourth century, they became one of the earliest known crafts produced for the masses. These also drew inspiration from Attic pottery (perhaps by emigration by Athenian artists during the Peloponnesian War), but, because they were produced by Greek colonists in South Italy, have distinctly Italian elements, and seem to have been intended solely for use in the South Italic colonies. The city of Paestum, in the northwest corner of Lucania, produced pottery with "framing palmettes" like you see here underneath the handles, and favored the bell-krater shape as well as scenes of Dionysus.

Provenance: Ex-Private Florida collection

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Repair to rim, well-restored and difficult to see.

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Greek Paestum Red-Figure Pottery Bell Krater

Estimate $5,000 - $7,000Sep 22, 2016