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Black Glazed Pelike

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: Greek
: Attic, 5th century B.C.
: Terracotta
: H: 39.4 cm; D: 24.1 cm

Ex Thomas Barlow Walker, Minneapolis, prior to 1972;

Sotheby’s Park Bernet New York, September 26-28, 1972 (lot 286);

Sotheby’s New York, June 20, 1990 (lot 14);

US private collection.


Good condition.


This noble vase is an excellent example of pottery made in Attica. It is impressive both in size and proportions. Pelike as the vessel’s shape designed to contain wine or other liquid belongs to the variety of amphora; it has the widest portion toward the base and a broad neck with overhanging rim which covers the top of the arched handles. The foot is modeled in three degrees; the handles and the body are ribbed suggesting that the shape derives from the repoussé metal vases.

The rim is painted in black figure with egg-and-dot; the neck received an additional decoration as a wreath of olive or laureal leaves added in thin clay and formerly gilded, which also points to the influence of the metalwork. The highly purified clay slip coating of black-glaze vases, which produced the vitreous black sheen upon firing in the kiln, can be considered equal to some of the best work of Greek ceramic art. Along with the embellishment of stamped designs (on other examples) and gilding, the lustrous, highly purified clay slip covering such vases created a valuable decorative effect.


RICHTER G. M. A., Shapes and Names of Athenian Vases, New York, 1935, pp. 4-5.

HERRMANN J., In the Shadow of the Acropolis: Popular and Private Art in Fourth Century Athens, Brockton, 1984.

SPARKES B., TALCOTT L., The Athenian Agora XII: Black and Plain Pottery of the 6th, 5th, and 4th Centuries B.C., Princeton, 1970.

ROBERTSON M., The art of vase-painting in classical Athens, Cambridge, 1992, p. 295.

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