Red-Figure Lekythos with Erotes Holding Volute Tendrils
Culture: Greek, Attic
Period: Attic, Ca. 490-480 B.C.
Dimensions: H: 33.5 cm
Acquired on the European Art market 1990 . Ex-Japanese private collection
A lekythos is a container for oil that could have been used as an offering in a sanctuary, for application to the skin after bathing, or for preparation of the deceased before burial. The shoulder of this vessel is decorated with two Erotes on either side of a central decoration of palmettes and volutes; palmettes flank the handle. Amusingly, and in spite of their downturned mouths, both Erotes seem at home as they walk with a lively, springing gait in the midst of palmettes and tendrils. Both with outspread wings, the Erote on the left holds a stem of a volute tendril in his left hand while the Erote on the right holds volute tendrils in both hands. The sides of the vase were intended to be black, but misfiring in the kiln resulted in a red- brown and black mottled effect. A tongue design encircles the neck where it joins the shoulder, and a band of simple key design between horizontal lines above and below extends around the body of the vase where it joins the shoulder.
This lekythos is similar a lekythos in Oxford decorated on the shoulder with a rooster and a hen between palmettes. Erotes holding volute tendrils, palmettes, or floral tendrils are depicted on lekythoi by Douris, the Syriskos Painter and others, but this vase is by another artist.
D. Kurtz, Athenian White Lekythoi: Patterns and Painters (Oxford 1975), 124, pl. 65.1a, b, for the lekythos in Oxford, Ashmolean Museum acc. no. 1932.733; pl. 8.1 a, b, for a lekythos by the Syriskos Painter depicting Eros holding volute tendrils ending in palmettes and lotus flowers, Berlin, Staatliche Museen 2252; pl. 10.2, pl. 11.1a-c, for a lekythos by Douris depicting erotes holding volute tendrils with palmettes and lotus flowers.