Apulian Red and White-Figure Bell Krater

SKU AM.0034

400 BC to 300 BC


16.9″ (42.9cm) high




South Italy

Gallery Location



Apulian vase painting was the leading South Italian vase painting tradition between 430 and 300 BC. Of the circa 20,000 surviving specimens of Italian red-figure vases, about half of them are of Apulian production, while the remaining derive from the four other main centres of production: Paestum, Campania, Lucania and Sicily. The main production centre for Apulian vases was Taras (modern Taranto), the only large Greek polis in Apulia. Apulia vases were decorated following two styles, the “Plain Style” and the “Ornate Style” (sometimes known as “Rich Style”). The first largely eschews additional colouring and was mostly used for the decoration of bell kraters, colonet kraters and smaller vessels. Their decoration is quite simple, the pictorial compositions usually include one to four figures Pictorial motifs focus on mythical subjects, but also include women's heads, warriors in scenes of battle or departure, and dionysiac thiasos imagery. The backs usually have small groups of cloaked youths in conversation. The artists of the Ornate Style preferred bigger vessels with space for larger images, such as volute kraters, amphorae, loutrophoroi and hydriai. Compositions contained up to 20 figures, often arranged in two or more registers. This marvellously detailed bell krater depicts a naked, wreathed man in the centre of the obverse. Viewed in profile, this figure relaxes upon a bed of animal skins and holds a tambourine and a basket in his right hand. To the left stands a draped female carrying a phiale and a fillet. To the right a second draped female holds a mirror in her right hand and a tambourine in her left. The figures are flanked by palmette complexes on both sides. A laurel motif runs beneath the rim and a wave pattern encircles the base. The reverse reflects a popular composition with three heavily draped and wreathed males. The field is dotted with rosettes.

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