Ancient Greek Apulian Red-Figure Lekanis

£ 3,950.00

An ancient Greek Apulian red-figure terracotta lekanis with a highly decorated lid. The deep-set body features a stemmed foot, decorated with two reserve bands, followed by a terminating black band. Around the rim is a decorative band of vertical lines, stopping short of each D-shaped applied handle. The inside of the body is covered entirely with black pigment, with much of the surface showcasing areas of iridescence. The highly decorated lid displays a bathroom scene, typical of lekanides. It features two central figures, formed from the lack of black gloss, given them their red-figure label. The female to the left is depicted seated, wearing a ‘chiton’. The drapes of her clothing formed from thin linear strokes of black pigment. Her head is turned to the right, echoing her outstretched arm which holds a large casket. Her left hand holds a patera. Additional details have been applied in white pigment, including the decorative motif to the casket, the rim of the patera and the ribbons holding the female’s hair in a elegant chignon. Her gaze is directed to our second figure; a fully grown Eros. He appears nude, with large wings at his back. In his right hand he holds an elaborate fan, with a ‘chlamys’ held in the crook of his arm. Like his female companion, additional elements have been highlighted in white pigment, including the fan’s ornate feathers, the jewellery around Eros’s body, his sandals and his large, furling wings. A large palmette sits at one end of the vessel. The carinated knob emerging from the lid is decorated with alternating reserve and black gloss bands. The top features a sun-ray pattern at its centre, interspersed with white dots and surrounded by thin bands of concentric black pigment.

Date: Circa 4th Century BC
Provenance: Ex German Auction, Nagel Auctions, acquired by a French Gallery, circa 2000s, Paris collection.
Condition: Very fine. Chips to the rim and some loss of glaze/pigment. Hairline, but stable cracks, to the lid via the body and stemmed knob. Old collector's label to the base of the body.

Lekanides, or lekanis in the singular, where pottery vessels consisting of a shallow, footed bowl with handles at either side, closed with a lid. The handles on lekanides are usually flat and ribbon shaped, meaning that there was most likely a prototype of the shape already in existence, made from another material – possibly metal. Lekanides are most often decorated with scenes involving women. The use of the motif is twofold. Most often they were filled with trinkets or jewellery and secondly, they were often gifted to young women, possibly on their marriage. Because of their use to store prized items, lekanides were often buried with their owners, to store their most valuable possessions in the afterlife.

To discover more on Greek pottery shapes, please see our relevant blog post: Style and Uses of Greek Pottery.

Dimensions L 27.5 x W 20.5 x H 18.5 cm
Greek Mythology





Southern Europe

Reference: For similar Eros and woman: Bonhams Auction House, London, Antiquities, 23rd May2012, lot 163

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