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About This Artwork
Chous (Toy Pitcher), 400/380 BC
Terra-cotta, decorated in the red-figure technique
8.9 x 6.5 x 6.5 cm (3.51 x 2.57 x 2.56 in.)
Gift of Martin A. Ryerson through The Antiquarian Society, 1907.15
Ancient and Byzantine Art
Not on Display
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 small white water bird has captured the unwanted attention of two naked toddlers. The boy on the left extends his toy pitcher toward it, while his companion bends over to touch it.
—Permanent collection label
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.
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).
Daniel C. Rich, "Martin A. Ryerson's Gifts to the Classical Department," Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, volume 27, no. 1 (January 1933), pp. 17-18.
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. 52 no. 114.