Apulian Red-Figured Lebes Gamikos, HCM 234

Apulian Red-Figured Lebes Gamikos, HCM 234

This terracotta vase (H 19.3) is a lebes gamikos, a distinctive Greek wedding vessel which was a gift for the bride. This type of vessel generally has a foot, lid and handles. Before the 4th century BC it was usually attached to a tall stand instead of a foot. This vase has a slim body and two upright handles. The lid has an elongated finial. There is a decoration of rays on the shoulder, bands of wave pattern beneath the scenes and around the lid, and composite palmettes below the handles.
There are different scenes on each side of the body. On one, a woman seated on a rock cradles a dish. On the other a winged Eros, similarly posed, clutches a mirror in his right hand. Both figures are rounded in shape and have body ornament of necklaces, bracelets and anklets. Eros is wearing a beaded bandolier andportrays and effeminate look, common in southern Italian vase painting.
There are flowers in the field, and abundant use has been made of added yellow and white colour. In representations of wedding scenes the lebes is shown to contain branches of myrtle, evocative of fertility and joy.
The red figure technique was an invention of the Athenians in the sixth-century BC. Many schools of decorative feature existed, such as the Mannerist school which used stiff drapery, awkward poses and exaggerated gestures. Vase production declined steeply in Athens in the mid to late fourth-century. Greek colonies of Southern Italy, including Apulia continued production for some time.

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