Kallos Gallery

An Attic pottery lidded pyxis

An Attic pottery lidded pyxis with a pair of horses

Geometric Greece, mid 8th Century BC

17.5cm high

22cm diameter

An Attic pottery lidded pyxis

Geometric Greece, mid 8th Century BC

17.5cm high

22cm diameter

 

With a rounded body and flat base, this lidded pyxis has been decorated with beautifully black-painted geometric patterns. The lid and interior have two sets of two conforming perforations, leaving no doubt that the lid and base belong together. The body of the pyxis is dominated by a large cross-hatched meander pattern, a decoration that is typical of geometric pottery. The decoration on the lid consists of concentric bands and rays around the rim, with a pair of horses attached on top, both sculpted in the round and decorated with highly detailed geometric ornament.

 

Pyxides decorated with sculptural groups of horses are believed to have been exclusive to Athens. Pyxides were luxury items used by wealthy women to store jewellery, cosmetics, and trinkets. They were also appropriate grave gifts as they revealed the former lifestyle of the deceased, and confirmed their high social status. The choice of horse motif is significant as during this period horses were a symbol of nobility and wealth, owned only by the aristocracy.

 

J.M. Coldstream, Geometric Greece, London, 2003, no. 24a.

M. Denoyelle, Chefs-d’oeuvre de la céramique grecque dans les collections du Louvre, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris, 1994.

J. Boardman, Early Greek Vase Painting, London, 1998.

There is minor surface wear throughout, including wear to the glazed decoration, which has faded to an even brown in some places possibly as a result of misfiring in antiquity. There is some chipping mainly to the edges and there are patches of encrustation throughout. The body of the vessel is in excellent condition; it is intact with small surface chips. The matching circular lid is also intact, however the horses have been reattached with minor infill at the breaks at the bottom of their legs and tails. There has been a small amount of colour added to the top of the lid around where the horses’ legs have been reattached. There is a small amount of surface chipping mainly at the edges as to be expected and on the tips of the horses’ manes. The decoration of the horses is extremely well preserved. Overall this piece is in very fine condition.

PROVENANCE

Mr. John Crosby Jr. and Mrs. Ruth Enos Crosby, Nevada, acquired while traveling in Greece in 1935; thence by descent.
Exhibited at The Minneapolis Museum of Art, 1936-1951

 

 

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