About This Artwork

Greek; Athens

Chous (Toy Pitcher), 440/420 BC

Terra-cotta, decorated in the red-figure technique
10.8 x 7.7 x 7.8 cm (4.26 x 3.05 x 3.08 in.)

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson through The Antiquarian Society, 1907.13

Toward the end of the 5th century B.C., Athenian potters and painters created a large number of miniature oinochoai (sing. oinochoe), or pitchers, decorated with children at play or imitating adults. It is thought that they were given to the youngest members of the family during the Anthesteria, a three-day celebration of the new vintage of wine and the arrival of spring. These little vessels are called choes (sing. chous), which means libations, after the name of the second day of the festival. Children took part in the festival but did not imbibe wine.

A half-grown youth grabs the branch of a leafless tree with his left hand and extends his free hand to welcome a younger boy pulling a small cart.

—Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The Art Institute of Chicago, The Human Figure in Greek and Roman Art: From the Permanent Collection (Part 2), Gallery 120A, January 13, 1989-February 21, 1990.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Grave Goods from Ancient Cultures, Gallery 141, November 9, 1991-May 17, 1992.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Ancient Art Galleries, Gallery 155, April 20, 1994 - February 6, 2012.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Of Gods and Glamour: The Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art, Gallery 151, November 11, 2012 - June 2, 2015.

Publication History

Daniel C. Rich, "Martin A. Ryerson's Gifts to the Classical Department," Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, volume XXVII, number 1, January 1933, pp. 17-18.

Karen B. Alexander, "From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago," in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, by Karen Manchester, (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012), p. 38.

Anne E. Foley, Three Miniature Choes from the Art Institute of Chicago (thesis: 1977).

W. Fröhner, Collection van Branteghem: Vases peintes et terre cuites antiques dont la vente aux enchères aura lieu à Paris, Hôtel Druot, 16-18 Juin, 1892 (Paris 1892), p. 57 no. 133.

View mobile website