Greek Bronze Oinochoe with a Trilobe Spout

Greek · 4th century A.D.




H: 24.5 cm (9.6 in)





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This pitcher appears to be of the type called “Schnabelkanne” in German. It was hammered from two thin sheets of bronze, which were soldered together at the top edge of the ridge that runs around the middle. The top part, in the shape of an upside down funnel, ends in a long, thin spout ornamented by a frieze of languettes and a finely incised braided motif; the lower part of the body is cylindrical. The base of the handle is decorated here with an applied vegetal motif, composed of an acanthus leaf out of which blossoms forth a palmette with sinuous leaves.

In the Classical Greek world, the oinochoe was the preferred pitcher shape: at banquets (symposia) they were plunged directly into kraters to fill them with the wine that the cupbearers or the courtesans then served to the guests. One of the best parallels for this beautiful example comes from the “Tomb of the Prince” at Vergina located next to the so-called tomb of Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. Similar shape is also found among silver vessels which were part of a luxury service.


Acquired on the UK Art Market, 2004.


Alexander the Great: Treasures from an Epic Era of Hellenism, New York, 2004, p. 82 no. 13.

ANDRONICOS M., Vergina: The Royal Tombs and the Ancient City, Athens, 1992, p. 209.

BARR-SHARRAR B., The Derveni Krater, Masterpiece of Classical Greek Metalwork, Princeton, 2008, p. 17.

DROUGOU S., Macedonian metallurgy: an expression of royalty in Heracles to Alexander the Great. Treasures from the Royal Capital of Macedon, a Hellenic Kingdom in the Age of Democracy, Oxford, Athens, pp. 181-192.

The Search for Alexander, New York, 1980, pp. 75, 156 no. 106, 181 no. 158.