Lekythos, Red Figured, attributed to the workshop of the Bowdion Painter

Production date
480 BCE-440 BCE
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Object detail

Lekythos, Red Figured. Shows woman wearing the saccos and transverse himation. Looks into mirror in right hand, carries a 'Cista' in her left hand. Above and below are bands of meander. Shoulder of vessel decorated with linked palmettes. Attributed to workshop of the Bowdoin painter. Handle, neck and lip repaired, surface worn in places.
CH classification ARCHAEOLOGY Greek
Production date
480 BCE-440 BCE
Production place
L260mm x W85mm x D85mm
Media/Materials description
Pottery, painted
History and use
The Lekythos a special container designed to hold precious oils and perfumes. Olive oil was very important in Greek life, not only for coking, but also for lighting, cleaning the body, and the base for perfumes. A lekythos could hold one to two litres of oil, and the narrow neck ensured it poured slowly.

A woman is shown wearing a himation (a wool cloak worn over a tunic). She looks into a mirror held in the right hand, and carries a cista (box) in her left hand. Small vases like this were also decorated with single figures depicting a satyr (drunken god), Eros (god of love), Nike (goddess of victory), or animals or birds.

This piece is attributed to the Bowdoin painter, well-known painter of red-figure lekythoi with characteristic form and decorative flourishes. He was named after a lekythos in Bowdoin College, Maine. Red-figure ware used a supple brush to draw the figures, allowing livelier scenes, softer cloth, and more vibrant naturalistic elements.
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