Epichysis with red figures; Eros hermaphrodite in flight
Small chips, otherwise very good preservation
H. 19 cm.
Provenance : Eugène Piot Collection, sale of May 3, 1870, lot n. 29
Bibliography : F. Lenormand, Collection d'Antiquités Grecques recueillies dans la Grande-Grèce, l'Attique et l'Asie Mineure par M. Eug. P., Paris 1870, p. 18, n. 29
Far from being a rare form, the epichysis, characterized by its elegant neckline surmounting a coil-shaped body, was probably used to contain precious liquids implying a parsimonious use. The thinness of the mouth seems to be less appropriate for serving wine, as has been explained in the past, going so far as to describe these vases as a "flat-bottomed oenochoe". They were more likely to be used for oil or perfumes. The mouth is flanked by two small stylized masks in relief. The red-figure decoration on the horizontal part is treated with particular care for this form. The border is decorated with a frieze of ovals. A hermaphroditic Eros is represented in flight to the right. At the back of the vase, an elegant network of palmettes extends from the base of the handle and limits the scene depicted. The concave sides of the body are decorated with a frieze of olive leaves overpainted in white. The Getty Museum in Malibu and the Musée de Saint-Raymond in Toulouse have similar examples attributed to the Menzies Group, which was active in the third quarter of the fourth century BC.
Our example is distinguished both by its above-average size and by its quality; criteria that correspond fairly well to the spirit of the Piot collection to which this vase belonged. It is described as follows in the sale catalog:
29 - Basilicata. - Oenochoe of low form with flat bottom.
Red figures highlighted with white.
Flying hermaphrodite Eros
Palmettes near the handle. Garland of olive tree painted
in white around the base.
Height, 19 cent.
In the introduction to the sale catalog, F. Lenormand is effusive in his praise of the collection as a whole:
"The collection whose catalog we are giving to the public today, and which will soon be dispersed by auction, is not very numerous, but remarkable in the highest degree by the choice and the conservation of the pieces which compose it. It was formed by a distinguished amateur, Mr. Eug. P., one of the men who have the finest feeling for art, and the most reliable and practical knowledge of ancient monuments. It would be difficult to find a selection of ancient works made with such taste and discernment. The collection does not contain a single doubtful piece, nor even a single banal and vulgar piece. All are recommended to the attention of the public, the amateurs and the scholars by a great merit of art, by a state of freshness quite exceptional, and most often also by a very serious archaeological interest.
Among the painted vases one will meet a great number of rare and curious subjects for the science, at the same time as one will admire the elegance of the forms and the smoothness of the paintings. There are some delicious amphorae of Nola, beautiful vases of Vulci, and the vases of Basilicata themselves, less attractive usually for the amateurs and less interesting for the scholars, stand out in this collection by the free, happy and animated flow of their compositions. As for the group of lecythus with white background "coming from Athens, it is entirely exquisite and nothing is more rare than to find in such a state of conservation these delicate paintings, which fade and disappear most often like the colors of the butterfly's wing."
22 000 €