TITLE: Oenochoe CULTURE: Greek, Magna Graecia PERIOD: 330 - 320 BC
AUTHOR: Attributed to the Underworld Painter MATERIAL: Pottery SIZE: Height 30 cm REF: 2014209 PRICE: 5,500 Euros PROVENANCE: Collection of Dr. L. Benguerel Godó (Barcelona), acquired in the 1960s CONDITION: In good condition, intact, but with a small loss of black in the central lip of the vessel.
DESCRIPTION:This is a pottery oenochoe with a scene in red with white details. There are two figures in the central section of the vase, one is of a feminine one looking in the direction of a satyr. The latter is holding a sprig in the right hand, while balancing a calyx krater on his shoulder and supporting it with his left hand. The young woman is wearing a garment which is tightened at the level of the abdomen with a wide belt. From this falls a long skirt with a veiled overskirt which she is holding in her hands. Her chest and arms are covered by the garment but the material is so fine that the breasts can be discerned beneath. The scene is framed by an architectural structure.
An oenochoe is a type of Greek base widely used in antiquity. As its name indicates, oinos (wine) and choes (jug), this recipient was used to serve wine and for this reason it always had an ample body, a wide rim and a vertical handle so that it could be more easily lifted.
This example is from Apulia in the south of Italy made up of the region of Daunia mostly coincident with the modern province of Foggia and Mesapia to the south. From 320 BC Athens stopped exporting ceramics and only produced some vessels that were given as prizes to athletes in the Panathenaic Festivals. The ceramic produced by the Greek colonies in the Italian peninsula took the place of the Athenian ware in the Mediterranean market.
Red-figure pottery was one of the most important figurative styles of Greek production. It developed in Athens around 530 BC and was used until the 3rd Century AD. In the space of a few decades it took over the place of the previous dominant style of black-figure pottery. The technical base was the same in both cases but in red-figure pottery the colouring is reversed so that the figures stand out on a dark background as if they were lit up in a more natural way. The painters who did black-figure work were forced to keep the motifs they painted well apart one from the other and to limit their complexity. In contrast, the red-figure technique gave much greater liberty. Each figure was silhouetted against a black background, allowing the painters to portray anatomical details with greater accuracy and variety.
The technique consisted of painting the motifs on the vessels while they were still unfired using a transparent slip, which when fired took on a black coloration. In this manner the motifs were invisible before firing so that the painters had to work from memory without seeing their earlier work. Once the piece had been fired the zones which had not been covered by the slip retained the red colouring of the clay while the glossy areas, those that had been “painted, acquired a dense, brilliant black colour.
Attached is a certificate of thermoluminescense .