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Work Chalice

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)


© 1993 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)

Kardianou-Michel Alexandra

This elegant drinking-vessel is a thin-sided chalice made on the island of Chios in the early sixth century BC. Isolated human or animal figures on a plain, unadorned ground are characteristic of Chios pottery, notably chalices. Their inner surface is generally treated in a dark glaze painted with floral motifs in white and purple. The style is a continuation of the orientalizing Wild Goat style.

Chian pottery

The Greek island of Chios, off the coast of Asia Minor, was a flourishing center of ceramic production in the eastern Greek world. Geographically distant from the workshops of mainland Greece, and strongly influenced by Middle Eastern styles, Chian pottery developed its own distinctive style from the beginning of the Geometric period.
During the Archaic period and following on from the orientalizing Wild Goat style, local painters developed the black-figure style, but it was in the more innovative and less traditional "chalice style" that they excelled until the first quarter of the sixth century BC. Chian Archaic pottery first appeared in the mid-seventh century BC, reaching its heyday during the period 630-550 BC.
For many years this pottery was thought to have been produced in Naucratis, in Lower Egypt, but excavations on Chios and chemical analysis of the island's clay established that in fact it came from workshops on Chios itself.


Pottery from Chios (essentially chalices) has been found not only on the nearby coast of Asia Minor, but also in Naucratis in Lower Egypt, on the Greek island of Aegina, on the Acropolis in Athens, in Kavala in northern Greece, and at Berezan on the Black Sea.
Decoration in the "chalice style" consisted of figures and animals derived from the Wild Goat style - almost exclusively lions and sphinxes isolated in the central panel of the cup, on one side only (the other side being plain white, as here, or decorated with a simple rosette). The lions generally face towards the right, the sphinxes to the left. Human figures are also represented, often women playing pipes, depicted in silhouette in processions, religious ceremonies, or komos. Identifiable mythological scenes are rare. Secondary decorative elements are absent, or restricted to a few lines, trellis patterns or zigzags between the handles.

Sophisticated polychrome painting

The sides of Chios chalices are remarkably thin and delicate, hence the relatively small number of examples found intact. The elongated forms of the vase and stem are reinforced by the small handles applied horizontally halfway up the body.
The decorated interiors of the chalices and other small vessels such as bowls, phialai and kantharoi are characteristic of Chios pottery: white and purple floral motifs are painted on a dark glazed ground, with a cross or rosette at the center (as here) and flowers, lotus buds and rosettes around the inner rim. The handles and stem are painted with black or brown slip, and the drawing may be highlighted with touches of polychromy. Here, the flowers, lotus buds and rosette are outlined in white and highlighted with touches of red. Red is also used to highlight details of the lion's body. The cross-hatching on the inner surface of the bowl and stem is in white.


Martine Denoyelle, Chefs-d'oeuvres de la céramique grecque dans les collections du Louvre, 1994, Réunion des musées nationaux, p. 30, n 10
Anne Lemos, Archaic Pottery of Chios, 1991, Oxford University Press
John Boardman, Early Greek Vase Painting, 1999, Thames & Hudson

Technical description

  • Attributed to Running Man Painter


    Vers 580 - 570 avant J.-C.

    Provenance : Camiros (Rhodes)


  • H. : 14,40 cm. ; D. : 14,50 cm.

  • Collection Salzmann, 1863 , 1863

    A 330 Bis

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Denon wing
    Lower ground floor
    Pre-Classical Greece
    Room 170
    Vitrine 31

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