Ancient Greek Gnathian Oinochoe

£ 595.00

An ancient Greek, Gnathian terracotta oinochoe, covered in black glaze. The vessel features a large pyriform body, which flares into a trefoil spout with an inturned rim.  An arched handle has been applied from the rim and connects the body. The vessel rests on a circular foot. The entire oinochoe is covered in a deep, black glaze whilst the remnants of a polychromatic scene are still slightly visible on the body. The scene depicts a seated figure, sitting on an animal. He holds a bow in his hands, taut with pressure and ready to fire. Unfurled wings sit on his back. With such attributes, we can ascertain that the figure is most likely Eros, in adult form. He could be riding a goat or a hippocamp; common depictions for the deity. Eros is bordered by a now-faded vine tendril, typical of the Gnathian style. An additional burgundy frame surrounds the vegetation. An incised ovolo band sits beneath the decorative scene, encircling the whole of the vessel.


Date: Circa 330 - 300 BC
Provenance: Ex K. Furness collection, acquired by descent from her mother. Circa 1950s onwards.
Condition: Fine condition: loss of polychromatic pigments and a few chips consistent with age.
Product Code: GS-98
Category: Tags: , , ,

Southern Italy was populated by a large number of Greek colonies from the 8th century BC onwards – so much so that the Romans referred to the area as Magna Graecia – Great Greece. The pottery attributed to the Gnathia style is so termed after the site of Gnathia (present-day Egnazia), which is located on the Adriatic coast of Apulia. Gnathia ware was famed for its glossy black slip pottery and for its polychromatic decoration – often using shades of white, ochre and red. After 330 BC, white paint became predominant. The Gnathian style incorporated a range of scenes, including images from the lives of women, erotic meetings, theatrical scenes, and Dionysian motifs, such as the grapes and vines on this vessel. Oinochoes were used in Ancient Greece for pouring liquids, such as wine and oil. The liquid could be distributed with a degree of control, due to the slender concave neck.

Eros is commonly depicted seated on both goats and hippocampoi. Whilst there doesn’t seem to be a mythological association, depictions of Eros riding both animals were common artistic representations. Hippocampoi, part horse and part fish, were thought to be full-grown versions of seahorses.

To learn more about Greek pottery, please visit our relevant blog post: Styles and Uses of Greek Pottery.

Weight 209 g
Dimensions W 10 x H 16 cm
Greek Mythology





Southern Europe