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Work Apulian red-figure oinochoe

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

Oenochoé à figures rouges

© 1993 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

Author(s):
Sophie Marmois-Sicsic

The Louvre oinochoe, attributed to the Salting Painter, is exceptional for its monumental size and luxuriant decoration. It illustrates the "baroque" trend in Apulian production during the second quarter of the fourth century BCE. The abduction of Oreithyia by Boreas is represented in a majestic flight, above a magnificent vegetal composition.

Apulian "Baroque"

Apulian red-figure pottery expanded enormously during the early part of the fourth century BCE. There were two distinct stylistic movements: the "plain style", characterized by medium-sized vases decorated with scenes of two or three figures; and the "ornate style", represented by large vases embellished with more elaborate scenes and abundant vegetal motifs. This "ornate style" gave rise to a stylistic movement known as "Apulian baroque", which started in the workshops of the Iliupersis Painters and the 1714 Athens painters, during the second quarter of the fourth century BCE.
The vases attained impressive dimensions, in particular the volute kraters decorated with scenes depicting offerings at "naiskos" (funerary monuments), surrounded by rich vegetal motifs.
The Salting Painter, to whom the Louvre oinochoe is attributed, was active in the workshop of the Suckling-Salting Group, who were part of this movement. A pelike by his hand is in the Salting collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which gave him his name.

Lavish decoration

The oinochoe by the Salting Painter is exceptional for its size - monumental for this type of vase - and for the richness of its decoration. It still has its lid, which is decorated with several palmettes and perfectly fits its trefoil mouth. The knob, which has a baluster shape, is inspired by a flowerbud motif.
On the belly of the vase, the decoration known as "secondary" is given a pre-eminent role and becomes the principal subject. The painter has given painstaking attention to the decorative quality of the vegetal motifs, in a manner in keeping with the Middle Apulian "baroque" style (c.370-340 BCE). A frieze of palmettes encircled by ova, forms a sort of band emphasizing the shape of the neck. In the lower part, the traditional meander frieze is interrupted by latticework. The meticulously executed decoration is made up of intermingled vegetal motifs (spirals of leaves, palmettes and bellflowers), symmetrically arranged above a magnificent spray of acanthus leaves painted in perspective. This red-figure painter has used a darker wash to shade the different parts of the toothed leaves, along with white highlights that have worn away with time, to produce a pictorial effect. Some of the vegetal motifs terminate in palmettes, thereby creating an interplay between the real and the decorative.

Boreas and Oreithyia

Two figures emerge from the luxuriant foliage and the acanthus: Boreas and Oreithyia. Boreas, god of the north wind and son of Eos (the dawn) and Astraeos, was one of the Titans who personified the elemental forces of Nature. In love with Oreithyia, daughter of King Erechtheus of Athens, he carried her off from the banks of the Illissos to his native Thrace, where she bore him two sons.
This episode of the abduction of Oreithyia by Boreas, which appears elsewhere on Attic pottery, was traditionally depicted as a chase. On this oinochoe, by contrast, the scene takes place in the air. Boreas carries off the young girl as he flies over the vegetal decoration that covers the vase. Oreithyia tips her head back and the two bodies seem to fuse in rapture, in a scene that appears to suggest amorous transports rather than forced abduction.

Bibliography

Martine Denoyelle, Chefs-d'oeuvre de la céramique grecque, 1995, p. 170, Ed. de la Réunion des musées nationaux, n 80.
Feuillet n 3/21: La céramique à figures rouges hors d'Athènes.

Technical description

  • Peintre de Salting

    Oenochoé à figures rouges

    Vers 360 avant J.-C.

    Apulie

  • H. : 44,50 cm. ; D. : 27,40 cm.

  • Acquisition, 1872 , 1872

    K 35

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Galerie Campana V
    Room 44
    Vitrine 12 : Apulie

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