Funerary (cinerary) urn in the form of a mixing bowl (bell-krater)
Greek, South Italian
Early Hellenistic Period
Early 3rd century B.C.
Place of Manufacture: Sicily, Centuripe
Vase-Painting in Italy (MFA), no. 152.
Total height: 79 cm (31 1/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Ceramic, Centuripe Ware
Not On View
ITALIAN VASE PAINTING in ITALY, #152 (1983.558)
Early 3rd century B.C.
The tall foot is painted pinkish white, and its lower step is painted rose. On the finial of the knob, which is covered with a white wash, are five gilded, upright, plastic leaves. On the lid below the concave stem is a plastic egg-and-dart molding. On the lower edge of the lid, below an applied bead-and-reel molding, is a band of fish, dolphins, and hippocamps in applied relief. Around the upper rim of the body, framed by applied bead-and-reel and leaf-and-tongue molding, is a band of alternating rosettes, water leaves, and acanthus leaves. Small applied ovoid projections suggest olives or tightly closed buds. The applied reliefs are all on a black ground; all the plastic moldings and reliefs are gilded, save for the leaves on the lower body, which are pink with gilded stems and borders.
The scene on the body, painted on a pink ground, focuses on a woman seated on a white throne-like chair with turned yellow legs outlined in brown. She is surrounded by three maids; the one at her left shades her with a parasol. The seated woman holds a vertical scepter in her left hand, suggesting that she is a goddess, perhaps Persephone. The maid with the parasol has rather dark skin. Her face is rendered nearly frontally, like that of her mistress and the maid at the left. The maid at the far right stands in profile to the left holding a dark red rectangular object framed on two or three sides with white; it may be a casket rendered in confusing perspective, but its flat effect, abetted by two rows of faint white signs in the red field, suggests that it might be a tablet with writing. All four women wear chitons, himatia, and jewelry. Their drapery is outlined with black. The himatia of the maid at the left and the maid holding the parasol are white with pink overfolds. The seated woman has a pink chiton, and the maid at the far right has a pink and white chiton. The women’s faces are painted pink and red with white highlighting. Their hair is reddish black. White fillets tied in bows hang from the upper edge of the dark pink background.
On the lid is painted the bust of a winged woman on a dark pink ground. Her flesh is orange-pink, and her hair and eyebrows are reddish black. Her lips are pink, and her nose is highlighted with white. The pupils of her eyes are black, and her hand, wings, and chiton are outlined in black.
In both pictures, the women’s features are well drawn, with subtle shading and use of highlights, but the techniques and characterizations are different enough to be the products of two different hands.
Compare the seated woman and the maid with a parasol on a bell-krater at the University of Catania: P. E. Arias and M. Hirmer, A History of 1000 Years of Greek Vase Painting (New York ), color pl. LII.
By date unknown: Mohammad Yeganeh Collection; gift of Mohammad Yeganeh to MFA, December 7, 1983
Gift of Mohammad Yeganeh