A rare Apulian Xenon ware prochous painted in red slip with a scene with four panels of stick figures racing, boxing, wrestling, and hunting a boar. Two faces on either side where the handle joins the spout.
Dr. Jerome Eisenberg Collection (1930-2022), New York
This style of overpainting on black ware is known as Xenon ware, a uniquely Apulian version of an Attic style. The term 'Xenon Ware' comes from a kantharos now displayed in the Frankfurt museum which bears the word XENON and was the basis for categorisation of this type of Apulian pottery. For discussion and the form see J.W. Hayes, Greek and Italian black-gloss wares and related wares in the Royal Ontario Museum: a catalogue, Toronto, 1984. For a similar example with abstract figures, see Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, acc. no 81.82.
More commonly Xenon ware is painted with purely decorative foliate and geometric motifs, sometimes with animal detail such as birds or swans. Figural subjects are unusual, and the athletic subjects of this marvellous vessel are very rare indeed. The scene indicates the vessel was made for a specifically male audience, whose pursuits included boxing and wrestling in traditional Greek palaistra, athletics, and hunting.