Lekythos (Oil Jar)

A work made of terracotta, decorated in the white-ground technique.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of terracotta, decorated in the white-ground technique.

Date:

About 445/440 BC

Artist:

Attributed to the Achilles Painter
Greek; Athens

About this artwork

Athenian cemeteries housed a variety of monuments and offerings to the dead. This terracotta vessel, called a lekythos, is one example that held oil. From the middle until the end of the fifth century B.C., they were usually decorated in a distinctive technique known as white ground, so called after the light slip coating on the body and shoulder of the vase. Atop this, figures were usually drawn in outline and then painted in rich colors, many of which have since faded. Since most of these bottles were made for burial with the dead or to be left at their graves, the scenes on their surfaces typically represent tombs, visitors to tombs, and farewell scenes.
Here two men, perhaps father and son, bid one another farewell. On the left, the young man departs, spear in hand, but he looks back toward an older man with a walking stick, who watches him go. The latter man’s hair and beard are white. He wears a russet-colored mantle that appears sheer, clearly revealing the contours of his body underneath.

On View

Ancient and Byzantine Art, Gallery 151

Artist

Achilles Painter

Title

Lekythos (Oil Jar)

Origin

Athens

Date

445 BC–440 BC

Medium

terracotta, decorated in the white-ground technique

Dimensions

H. 30.8 cm (12 1/8 in.); diam. 9.8 cm (3 7/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson through The Antiquarian Society

Reference Number

1907.20

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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