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Home > Auctions > 21st February 2023 > Large Greek Apulian Red-Figure Bell-Krater

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LOT 0058

Sold for (Inc. bp): £28,600

16 1/8 in. (4 kg, 41 cm wide).

A red-figure terracotta bell-krater displaying polychrome figural panels between a laurel wreath and a band of Greek key motifs; side a) two robed male figures holding staffs, wearing a taenia or a band around the head, standing facing a central altar; side b) a woman wearing a chiton and holding a casket and olive sprig in her outstretched hands, advancing right towards a nude man standing right, his head turned towards her, holding a bucket and olive sprig, a cloak draped over his arm, elaborate volute palmettes beneath both handles; restored.

Private collection, Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
Ex collection H.& P. Payot, Clarens, by descent.

Accompanied by an original thermoluminescence analysis report no.QED2237/SG-0201 from QED Laboratoire.
Accompanied by an academic report by Dr Raffaele D’Amato.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by search certificate number no.11580-199029.

Cf. The Metropolitan Museum, New York, accession numbers 1984.323.2 and 16.140, for similar specimens, in Richter, G. M. A. ‘Recent Accessions of Greek Vases’ in Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 11(12), New York, 1916, pp.255–56, figs.6-7; Metropolitan Museum of Art, ‘One Hundred Fifteenth Annual report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1984 through June 30, 1985’ in Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1985, no.115, p.38; see also Robinson, E.G.D., Carpenter, T., Lynch, K.M., The Italic People of Ancient Apulia: New Evidence from Pottery for Workshops, Markets, and Customs, Cambridge, 2014, figs.5.2, 6.1.

Wide-mouthed bell kraters like this one were specifically designed for holding large quantities of liquid and to work as mixing bowls, as it was considered barbaric for wine to be drunk neat (a privilege only enjoyed by Dionysus and his entourage who could handle such a level of intoxication). Wine would be mixed with water, usually one part to three, or even more, as described by Homer regarding the wine offered to the giant Polyphemus (Odyssey, IX, 206-211). As such, kraters provided an ideal large surface area for decoration, and as wine was of utmost importance at the symposium, kraters would usually take centre place, and the decoration of such vessels were geared towards such gatherings attempting to provide subject matter for philosophical debate, like the ones described in Athenaeus’ Deipnosophistae.