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Ca. 540-480 BC

A black-figure skyphos skillfully crafted from fine reddish clay. The body of the skyphos rises gracefully from a slightly splayed foot, gradually widening towards the mouth. The vessel is adorned with two handles on either side. The inside of the skyphos is coated with a black glaze, adding a contrasting element to the overall design. On both sides of the vessel, a captivating scene is depicted in the black-figure technique. The scene portrays a dancing female figure at the centre, surrounded by two youths engaged in lively dancing motions. The scene is framed by seated sphinxes, with their backs turned away from the dancers, forming a decorative border. The foot, base, rim, and handles of the skyphos are accentuated with black pigment.


Skyphoi were used during symposia, Greek social gatherings where men would engage in drinking, intellectual discourse, and entertainment. The wide-mouthed design of the skyphos allowed for easy access to its contents, typically wine. The handles provided a comfortable grip for the participants, facilitating the communal drinking experience. Beyond their practical function, skyphoi also carried symbolic meaning and cultural significance. The scenes depicted on the surface of the vessel, such as the dancing figures and the sphinxes, served as visual stimulants that enriched the symposium experience, forming springboards for discussion and reinforcing cultural values of ancient Greek society, reflecting themes of music, dance, and mythological imagery. For a similar example, see The British Museum, Museum number 1836,0224.199.


Provenance: Property of a London Ancient Art gallery, formerly in an English private collection, according to the heirs possibly purchased in some auction or Art Gallery during the 1970s-1980s.


SKU: A-VI 012
  • Dimensions

    L: 150mm / W: 245mm ; 435g

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