Ancient Greece, Athens, Attic, ca. 5th century BCE. A beautiful wheel-thrown Attic lip cup - a form of kylix - with a hemispherical body, a thick rim, and a pair of projecting parabolic handles, all atop a slender stem and discoid foot. Lustrous jet-black glaze envelops many areas of the vessel, though reserved areas of the foot, body, and central basin provide for a bi-chrome schema. The reserved band on the exterior displays a pair of stylized lions with incised striations that delineate their muscular bodies, powerful claws, sinuous tails, and full manes. One lion still retains its original black pigmentation, though the viewer can still visualize the second lion based on the remaining incised details. A concentric circle adorns the tondo, as is customary for Attic-ware. Lip cups were somewhat difficult to produce, and the pronounced ridge underneath the rim of lip cups would have prevented spillage. Size: 7.875" W x 3.7" H (20 cm x 9.4 cm).
This piece presents strong Attic black-figure painting technique. The artist first painted with slipware and then carefully scratched into it with a type of needle in order to incise the lines, thus creating delightful figures and patterns. In this case, the artist has depicted lions, an ancient symbol of fierceness and power, as well as favored items to be hunted.
For a stylistically-similar example depicting a ram, please see The British Museum, museum number 1886,0401.1290: https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=459336&partId=1
Provenance: ex-estate of Roy Green, Birmingham, Alabama acquired before 2015 from major New York galleries
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