Attic white-ground lekythos with women bringing offerings to a grave - ROM2013_13639_1


Attic white-ground lekythos with women bringing offerings to a grave

Maker: Attributed to the Manner of the Sabouroff Painter
Medium:Wheel-thrown earthenware, slip-painted
Geography: Made in Athens, Greece; findspot unknown
Date: about 460 BC
Period: Classical Greek period
32.4 x 10.8 cm
Object number: 929.22.7
On view
Gallery Location:Gallery of Greece

In the Classical period, this particular type of Athenian oil-flask (lekythos) with a white background to the decoration (white-ground) was used in Athenian burials as a gift to the dead and does not appear to have been exported outside the local region.

The scene shows two women with grave offerings standing on either side of a grave stele (grave marker). The woman on the left, who wears a sakkos (a turban-like head-dress), holds out her hands. The woman on the right carries a large basket of grave offerings, which include wreaths and  four lekythoi, their tops just visible in the basket. The steps of the grave stele are decorated with more wreaths and lekythoi, showing that the lekythos was a vase-shape commonly used as a grave offering.

An x-ray of the interior of this vase reveals a small body inside the larger false body, meaning that the container was smaller than it looked from the outside. It probably held expensive perfumed oil. A false body has been found with several other white-ground lekythoi, supporting targumentent that they were used as offerings, rather than as everyday containers.  

Iliffe attributed this lekythos to the Sabouroff Painter, but Beazley said it was only in the Manner of the Sabouroff Painter.

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