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 440 BC

Artist:

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.
A woman drawn in outline stands beside an empty chair. Presumably it references the absence of a loved one. A basket sits on the ground behind her. There are no remains of color. Unrelated to the scene but of interest in its own right is the inscription extending before the woman. It states that a youth by the name of Euaion is handsome. The subject of this praise is probably the son of the great Athenian dramatist Aeschylus (525–456 BC). Like his father, Euaion became a tragedian.

On View

Ancient and Byzantine Art, Gallery 151

Artist

Ancient Greek

Title

Lekythos (Oil Jar)

Origin

Athens

Date

440 BC

Medium

terracotta, decorated in the white-ground technique

Inscriptions

Inscription: EUAIΩN KA°O∑ (Euaion Kalos; "Euaion is handsome")

Dimensions

H. 31 cm (12 1/4 in.); diam. 10.4 cm (4 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson through The Antiquarian Society

Reference Number

1907.19

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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