Geometric Greek Terracotta Olpe

Attic, Late Geometric II, 735 – 720 B.C.



H: 43 cm





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The full, rounded body of this oinochoe rests on a low ring base. An elegant, inward curved neck ends in a trefoil shaped mouth, and a strap handle, which is reinforced by a ceramic strut at midpoint, extends from the lip to the shoulder of the vessel. Separated by groups of three horizontal lines, the vessel is embellished with intricate bands of decoration from foot to lip: dots, rows of vertical zigzags, horizontal zigzag lines, stylized water-birds, and areas of checkerboard square design created by the careful placement of rows of alternating dots. The shoulder zone of the oinochoe is separated into square panels, or metopes, which are decorated with hatched swastika shapes surrounded by stacked chevrons and zigzags. The panels are separated by an arrangement of sets of two vertical lines alternating with vertical bands decorated with hatched and cross-hatched lines. A pair of mastoi, or nipples in relief, are prominently placed opposite the handle and above the decorative band of the shoulder. A common aspect of these vessels, mastoi originated in Attic pottery during the Early Geometric period and are found primarily on oinochoai shapes and small cups. This large scale oinochoe derives its inspiration from a type produced by the Dipylon Master, one of the greatest vase painters of the Geometric period. His version, a masterwork, was apparently intended for funerary use and done on a monumental scale, being almost a meter in height. The painter of this particular oinochoe was aware of the Dipylon Master’s tradition, along with other Geometric artists, who continued the type on a smaller scale in the second half of the eighth century B.C.


Complete; painting uneven in display because of original misfiring; some wear to painted decoration on the neck, handle and body, a few chips on the rim of the mouth, body, and foot.


Art market, prior to 1960;

Ex- Pouilloux private collection, France, 1960.


PAD London, 2017


CHRISTIANSEN J., Greece in the Geometric period, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, 1992, pp.34-35, no. 7. COLDSTREAM N. J, Greek Geometric Pottery, A Survey of Ten Local Styles and their Chronology, London, 1968, p. 44, no. 3; pl. 7d.
COURBIN P., La céramique géométrique de l’Argolide, Paris, 1966, pp. 470-471.