A beautiful ancient Greek, Gnathian drinking cup, known as a kantharos. The vessel has a deep bowl and stands on a short stem, resting on a circular foot. It features D-shaped handles on each side, arranged vertically from rim to body. The body features a ribbed bowl, with painted motifs to a smooth band at the top of the vessel. An ochre-coloured vegetal trail, likely a stylised ivy motif, decorates the upper body. The remainder of the kantharos’ body is covered in a rich, black glaze, with the linear indentations coloured white. Only a few indentations retain their original pigment.
Date: Circa 330 - 300 BC Provenance: Ex K. Furness collection, acquired by descent from her mother. Circa 1950s onwards. Condition: Fine condition, in some parts the glaze has faded and some small chips consistent with age.
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. Kantheroi were commonly used as drinking cups, to drink wine for ritual use or offerings. It was an attribute of Dionysos, the god of wine. A ribbed body was typical of Gnathian ware from the late 4th century – early 3rd century.