Magna Graecia, Apulia, Canosan Hellenistic Period, ca. 3rd century BCE. A well-proportioned funerary volute krater with twin large curled volutes perched on the rim. It stands on a pronounced, flared foot, and has a nicely delineated neck and apple-shaped body. This is painted all over with designs that are white, black, and a pale pink. Looping abstract designs define the shoulder, rim, and foot; wheel-like designs are painted onto the volutes. Many such vessels were painted with an image of the god Hermes standing in his chariot drawn by four horses; the messenger god also served as the guide for souls journeying to the underworld. Here, however, we have a woman, probably Eos (Aurora), sister of Helios, the sun. Italo-Greek vase painters liked to portray her as a winged woman on a chariot, as she appears here, with her long white chiton flowing out behind her as her single white horse heralds the dawn. She functions as a beautiful visual shorthand for the arrival of Hermes (often shown in other contemporary artwork being led behind her). Transposed over the body of the horse is a face, painted to look like a stone carving, is a face with a serious expression and what appear to be wings behind the head. The stylistic difference between the painting of Eos and that of the head suggests that the vase may have been pre-painted with the image of Eos and the head added later; the face may be modeled on the death mask of the real person whose tomb this vessel once graced. Size: 8" W x 13.25" H (20.3 cm x 33.7 cm)
Canosa - Canusion, in antiquity - was a major center of the ceramics and pottery trade when it was a Greek polis. It produced truly unique pottery, completely different in decoration style (although not in shape) from earlier and neighboring traditions. The clay is buff, with the decoration applied directly to it without the use of slip; the pink here is one of the unique colors found on these vessels. The hole in the bottom of the vase signifies that this was made solely for funerary purposes (and it's quite cool to look inside and see the clay that was pushed up through the bottom to form a hole). In ancient Greek practice, a bottomless vase like this was placed over a grave and offerings like wine were poured straight through it. Others, like this one, were never used but were buried in the tomb beside the deceased to evoke this custom. The funerary theme of the piece also indicates that it was made solely for burial purposes.
Provenance: Ex-Private Florida collection
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