Unknown Greek, ‘Apulian Amphora’, 400 BC to 300 BC, Barakat Gallery
Unknown Greek, ‘Apulian Amphora’, 400 BC to 300 BC, Barakat Gallery
Unknown Greek, ‘Apulian Amphora’, 400 BC to 300 BC, Barakat Gallery

From ancient workshops dotted around the Greek colonies of southern Italy (known in antiquity as Magna Graecia), artists rivaled with one another in friendly competition. This lovely amphora bears stylistic similarities to the “H.A” painter. Fashioned in the Panathenaic shape, it has laurel leaves and berries in white on the mouth. On the neck are black palmettes and a tongue pattern around the shoulder–all characteristics of the “H.A” painter, as is the style of the figures. This amphora was probably part of furniture interred in a chamber-tomb. On one side, a man is making an offering to a seated woman. The same male figure appears on the reverse, where he faces another man, both with a hand clasped over the top of a staff. This may represent the spirit saying farewell to his earthly body. He then receives his last blessing on earth from a goddess, or perhaps his spouse, before departing into the spirit world. The figure making the offering seems to be lifting from the ground, and the cloak over his shoulder flutters as if about to take flight. Despite the somber theme, there is a sense of joy and liberation. With delicacy and refinement a prominent painter in sunny Apulia has given us a glimpse into the mysteries of the spirit.

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