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Pelike (Storage Jar)

A work made of terracotta, black-figure with applied paint.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of terracotta, black-figure with applied paint.


about 510-500 BCE


Greek; Athens

About this artwork

This ancient storage vessel is decorated in the black-figure technique, which was developed in Corinth and used widely during the Archaic period (700–480 BCE). Gloss, a slip made from refined clay, was applied to all areas intended to be black. For the figural scene the silhouettes of the figures and other elements were painted in gloss, sometimes following the lines of a preliminary sketch scratched into the surface. Using a sharp tool, the artist created details by incising through the gloss to the light clay ground below. Colors such as purple-red and white, made from a gloss with mineral pigments, were then added. After a three-stage firing process applying alternately less and more oxygen, the gloss turned black. In its finest form, it was quite shiny. On this vessel, those techniques are used by the artist to create lively scenes in which a woman dances playfully with a drape of fabric, perhaps her cloak. Male musicians accompany her with Greek instruments including a Barbiton (the string instrument which looks like a small harp) and an aulos (the wind instrument shaped like a doubled flute). The inquisitive dog adds to the sense of movement and rhythm within the scene.


Currently Off View


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Greek


Pelike (Storage Jar)


Greece (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

510 BCE–500 BCE


terracotta, black-figure with applied paint


H.: 34.9 cm (13 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Philip D. Armour and Charles L. Hutchinson

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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