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Work Proto-Attic loutrophorus

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


© 1994 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

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

Sophie Padel-Imbaud

This loutrophorus, a particularly slender amphora, marks the transition between the Geometric style that dominated the eighth century BC and the orientalizing style that was in vogue a century later. We can see how the Analatos Painter has taken motifs from the Geometric aesthetic-for example, the chariot procession, abstract patterns, and snakes modeled in light relief-while introducing new elements, like sphinxes and rosettes, and enlarging the figurative scenes.

A ritual vase

The loutrophorus is a type of amphora, distinguishable by its particularly tall neck and by its function. It was used to hold water for the nuptial bath and for washing the dead. When it marks the tombs of unmarried people, there is a hole in the bottom to allow communication with the dead.
Snakes modeled in relief decorate the mouth, handles, and shoulder of the vase, confirming its funerary function: the snake, a chthonian animal, was traditionally associated with the netherworld. The decoration is divided into different registers, alternating decorative patterns (sphinxes, rosettes, braids, wolf teeth, steps, spirals, and petals) with figurative scenes (couples dancing to the sound of the double flute and a procession of chariots).

The Analatos Painter

This loutrophorus is attributed to the Analatos Painter, who owes his name to the site in Attica where a hydria dating from the beginning of his career was found.
The artist trained in a workshop of the Late Geometric period and made the transition between this period and the orientalizing style that characterizes the seventh century BC. Although faithful to the Geometric tradition (in his use of various abstract motifs and the chariot procession, a well-known iconographic scheme), he nevertheless departs from it in many ways.

An innovative artist

The artist introduces motifs from the East, like sphinxes, rosettes, and braids, while enlarging the figurative scenes at the expense of the decorative motifs.
We can also see a clear progression in terms of human representation: the male silhouettes are more fluid and the female silhouettes more fleshy; they are wearing peploses embellished with dots; and the contours of each face are marked out and dominated by an exaggeratedly prominent eye.
Finally, the painter has demonstrated a wish to render these images more legible: he has used incisions to make the manes and backs of the horses stand out, thereby heralding the black-figure technique that would not be adopted in Athens until a few decades later.


Martine Denoyelle, "Le Peintre d'Analatos : essai de synthèse et perspectives nouvelles", in Antike Kunst, 39, 1996, pp. 71-87, pl. 13-19Martine Denoyelle, Chefs-d'oeuvre de la céramique grecque dans les collections du Louvre, Paris, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1995, p. 22, n 6

Technical description

  • Attribuée au Peintre d'Analatos


    Protoattique ancien (vers 690 avant J.-C.)

    Fabrication : Athènes

  • Terre cuite

    H. : 80 cm. ; D. : 27,50 cm.

  • Acquisition 1935 , 1935

    CA 2985

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Denon wing
    Lower ground floor
    Pre-Classical Greece
    Room 170

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