Magna Graecia, South Italy, Apulia, ca. 340 to 325 BCE. A South-Italic interpretation of an Attic form, this red-figure pottery skyphos presents a classic form comprised of a dual-handled, deep cup with a low flanged base. On each side, the vase painter depicted an owl standing between two sprays of olive leaves. This type of skyphos was extremely popular for several centuries, initially exported from Athens throughout the Greek world, including into Italy. A special example created for drinking wine - perfect for any oenophile who appreciates Greek art and mythology. Size: 5.75" W handle span x 2.75" H (14.6 cm x 7 cm)
The owl is a symbol of Athena, and often shown accompanying her; Athena, of course, was the goddess of the city of Athens, and so the owl became a symbol of Athens and its government. The olive tree, as well, relates to Athens. Athena and Poseidon were said to have quarreled over the city of Athens and Athena planted an olive tree on the Acropolis to show that it belonged to her. Herodotus records that, although the Persians burnt all of the Acropolis, the remains of the olive tree sprouted a new branch the very next day. The Athenian imagery present on this piece reminds us of the power of Greek cultural symbols in the ancient world.
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection; ex private Manhattan, New York collection, acquired from N. Koutoulakis, Geneva in 1987
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