Greece, Corinth, ca. late 7th to early 6th century BCE. A charming and sizable wheel-thrown pottery aryballos - used to store large quantities of perfumes or other scented oils - with a round but stable base, a globular body with a smooth shoulder, a squat neck supporting a discoid rim, and an applied tab handle joining rim to shoulder. Radiating bands of tongues surround the base, upper shoulder, and rim in applied black slip. The main body exhibits a wondrous zoomorphic register consisting of two lions - with muscular bodies, sinuous tails, and raised heads bearing gaping mouths and drooping tongues - flanking a grazing ibex seemingly unaware of its current predicament, and the surrounding areas are filled with dot-form and incised rosette motifs. Above the bestial border is a five-row register of incised drooping scales atop red and black pigment. All of the incised and applied decorations are presented atop a cream-hued ground, making this a colorful and finely-adorned example from ancient Corinth! Size: 5.4" W x 5.6" H (13.7 cm x 14.2 cm).
The Corinthian style evolved from the earlier Geometric style. Surfaces were traditionally organized into horizontal bands, with an emphasis on repeated patterns as well as an attractive play between light and dark. The Corinthian potters elected to expand the bands encircling the vessels, and fill them with both abstract, non-figural design motifs and zoomorphic images. On occasion they also included anthropomorphic motifs.
Published in "Across Time: Works of Sculpture, Painting, Mosaic and Glass, 5000 BC - AD 1200." Fortuna Fine Arts, Ltd., New York, 2005, fig. 33
A stylistically-similar example of a much smaller size and bearing similar zoomorphic motifs hammered for GBP 3,107 ($4,093.87) at Christie's, London "A Peaceable Kingdom: The Leo Mildenberg Collection" Auction (sale 7017, October 26-27, 2004, lot 9): https://www.christies.com/lotfinder/lot/an-early-corinthian-pottery-aryballos-attributed-to-4364288-details.aspx?from=searchresults&intObjectID=4364288&sid=35c2b0fe-2443-47de-a05f-a518764ab412
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Richard Wagner collection, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, acquired in the 1970s
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Vessel repaired from multiple large pieces, with some areas of restoration to base, body, and handle, and with resurfacing and overpainting along break lines. Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, fading to some incised details and areas of pigmentation, with minor nicks to handle, rim, body, and base. Nice earthen deposits throughout. Old inventory label beneath base.