Magna Graecia, South Italy, ca. 4th to 3rd century BCE. A ceramic volute krater of classic form: handles with molded Medusa mask termini on both sides, decorated overall in white slip, embellished with pink, white, red, and blue details, a female (likely Minerva) head flanked by scrolling flowering foliage on the neck, a register of flowers above and ovalo beneath, the body with opposed mythological warriors on hippocamps, both donning purple cloaks, blue kekryphalos with white pearls, one holding a large shield, all raised on a hollow foot. Size: 16.125" H (41 cm)
This remarkably well-preserved vase is a superb example of the Hellenistic polychrome tradition associated with the Canosa. During the 4th century BCE, Canosa was actually a major center of red-figure vase creation; however, by the 3rd century, this tradition was replaced by vessels painted in lively pastel hues on a white ground, like this example. While certain vase shapes, such as the volute-krater, askos, pyxis, and oinochoe, continued to be popular, they became embellished with even more elaborate decoration and figural iconography as we also see here.
A similar example sold at Christies New York - 9 December 2010, lot 129 - for $60,000 (http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/a-canosan-polychrome-pottery-volute-krater-apulia-circa-5385434-details.aspx)
Provenance: Ex-private collection of James Farmer, Maryland
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