Measurements: 16 cm - height

Description: An elegant Attic-Greek red-figure terracotta lekythos, featuring a tapered body with a narrow neck and a small, deep mouth. A single handle joins the neck to the shoulder of the vessel. A glossy black paint covers the majority of the vessel’s surface, laving the red clay on the neck exposed. The lekythos displays the depiction of an intimate moment of a woman at her toilette. The female figure is here portrayed wearing an elaborate draped peplos and a sakkos on her head. The figure holds a mirror in her outstretched left hand and a phiale in her right hand. On the floor next to her, a kalathos, a household basket used to hold wool or fruit, often used in ancient Greek art as a symbol of abundance and fertility. Further details are rendered in added red pigment. This elegant example is attributed to the Carlsruhe Painter.

 The Carlsruhe Painter takes his name after a vase depicting the Judgment of Paris now in the Badisches Landesmuseum Museum in Carlsruhe, Germany. He is known for being active in Athens, mostly painting lekythoi, both in the red-figure technique and in outline on white ground vases. Lekythoi were used in Ancient Greece to preserve and pour perfumed oil and ointments: its particular shape limited the release of the content and was suitable to prevent waste. Lekythoi were mainly used at baths and gymnasiums and for funerary offerings, as they were sometimes used for anointing dead bodies. Considering the delicate rendering and the subject of the depiction, this lekythos might have belonged to a wealthy Greek woman. Attic pottery usually depicts many scenes of women taking part in different activities of everyday life and offers an interesting insight into a range of women’s roles in Ancient Greek society. Scenes of a woman at her toilette are found in Athenian vase painting from the early 5th century BC. 


Period: Circa 5th-4th Century BC


Provenance: From the Sir Frances Sacheveral Darwin (1786-1859) collection, UK; and thence by descent.
Anonymous sale; Bonhams, London, 5 October 2011, lot 480.
 Gottfried and Helga Hertel collection, Cologne, acquired at the above sale. Beazley Archive no. 9026141. Sir Darwin, a relative of Charles Darwin, travelled in the Mediterranean 306 and the East from 1808-1810, and was the only one of his companions
to return alive. His diary of the tour details his burgeoning interest in

Condition: Extremely fine condition, with some minor chips to the body.

About us | Antiquities | Contact us

St James’s Ancient Art

           Ground Floor

           10 Charles II Street

           St James

           London SW1Y 4AA

         Monday - Friday,

           10 am - 6 pm


(primary contact number)

              +44 2083644565

G E T   S O C I A L   W I T H   US