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Apulian Red-Figure Kantharos with a Fight Scene between a Horseman and a Foot Soldier
Geneva | Animals
Date:  4th Century BC
Culture:  South Italian
Category:  AnimalsGreek VasesVessels
Medium:  Terracotta
Dimension: H: 33 cm
Price: $16,500.00
Provenance: Sotheby's London on December 3, 1991, n. 191.
Serial No: 20795

The vessel is whole with the exception of minor chips and a lost fragment from one of the handles. It is decorated in the red-figure technique, invented in Athens in the late 6th century B.C. and repeated, much later, in the colonial territories of Southern Italy and Sicily. The background, painted in black, still retains part of its original luster. The figures are depicted in red (the color of the clay), with added white, bronze-yellow, and red paint details. A female head is stamped at the base of each handle, each directed toward the interior of the container.

This kantharos, a relatively rare shape in the Apulian repertory, features a fight scene between a horseman and a soldier on foot on the obverse face. The soldier is dressed in a short tunic and uses his sword to defend himself from a spear wielded by the horseman. They each wear pointed helmets and only the hoplite wears greaves (shin-guards). Two shields lie on the ground; the smaller one is painted in bronze and rests at the feet of the hoplite and the larger one is painted in gold and is located under the warrior. The horse is overpainted in white and raises its forelegs to emphasize its rapid motion.

On the reverse side, the scene depicts a subject which is more usual in Apulian iconography: a young nude man is seated on a boulder, and holds two flat phiales in the right hand and a leafy branch in the left hand.

The vase has been attributed by A.D. Trendall and A. Cambitoglou to the Group of Bari 5981, composed of artists who belonged to one of the last active Apulian workshops in the production of red-figure containers, the White Sakkos Workshop. In this group, the painting, which is rather hasty and coarse, contrasts with the high technical quality that characterizes the work of the potters which is characterized by balanced, refined forms and glossy black glaze with many polychromatic highlights.

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