Made over twenty-two centuries ago in an attic workshop, this « skyphos », drink cup used in the banquets, is among the forty-eight known pieces by this artist. This anonymous master active circa 530 B.C. has been named « Painter of the Olpe of Nicosia » after the name-vase in the Nicosia Museum in Cyprus. All the vases of this painter show the same stylistic caracteristics : hieratic black figures displayed in frize in the archaic fashion, with a typical physionomy, pointed noses and rich use of red and white paint. The hanging laurel wreast in the field above the warrior may be considered as a hallmark of the painter. A close skyphos is in Athens Museum. It notice mentions ours as a comparison reference. Both vases bear the identical scene except some sphinges instead of men on the athenian vase.
The attic provenance of our skyphos is confirmed by a file in the Archives of the well known Joseph Brummer (1883-1947) whom belonged this vase to. Brummer is still considered as one of the most proeminent american dealers of his time. He was very important for the origins of the collections of the Metropolitan Museum and the Cloisters Museum in New York. On the file showing the skyphos still in fragments, we may read the dactylographic note : « Bought from Theodore Zoumpoulakis, 28th december 1946 ».
The vase is decorated on both faces with a rather similar scene with some differences between them. On the face A, an hoplit is leaving his family. On the soil we can see an helmet and an shield held by a woman. On the other face, a sitting old bearded man that may be identifyed as the warriror’s father. The women’s carinations are painted in white. The scenes are delimited by sphinges, fabulous animals with winged felin body and woman head. These creatures have some oriental and egyptian origins but penetrated into the greek culture as we may find them in Oedipus myth and as heraldical figures or tombs guards.