Apulian Red-Figure Rhyton in the Form of a Sheep's Head - X.0049
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 4 th Century BC
Dimensions: 6.5" (16.5cm) high
Collection: Classical
Style: Apulian
Medium: Terracotta


In an overview of Ancient Greek pottery, perhaps no single style is as charming as the works originating from the Italian province of Apulia. The Greek colonies of southern Italy (known in antiquity as Magna Graecia) were marked by their initial allegiance to the ceramic styles of the Attic mainland. However, over the years, native traditions and innovations heavily influenced the works of Magna Grecian potters. Unorthodox forms and painting-styles were seamlessly merged with the standard Greek style, creating distinctive works of art unique to the Hellenistic world.

Belonging to a well-known class of drinking vessels, this splendid terracotta rhyton is a particularly rare representation, since most of similar examples portray ram’s heads. Here, this head clearly lacks any horns as is surely intended to be the female counterpart. The rhyton's body is in the form of a sheep's head, beautifully realized in black gloss, the eye in red figure, heightening the sense of realism. At the back the flaring spout is decorated with a red-figure design showing a seated woman holding a cista and a mirror. A flat strap handle joins the back of the animal's head with the underside of the rim, facilitating the use of this vessel as a drinking horn. Holding this fabulous rhyton in our hands, we feel as if we have taken center stage in a luxurious Dionysian festival. Music, laughter, and the sounds of revelry fill the air. Dancers swirl around in the delights of the drink. And we lose ourselves in the celebration of life represented by this vessel. - (X.0049)



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