Funerary vase (lekanis)

Greek, South Italian
Early Hellenistic Period
Early 3rd century B.C.

Place of Manufacture: Italy, Sicily, Centuripe

Catalogue Raisonné

Vase-Painting in Italy (MFA), no. 150.


Height: 76 cm (29 15/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Centuripe ware (Sicilian)

Not On View


Europe, The Ancient World



Early 3rd century B.C.
The handle-zone is decorated with applied relief consisting of a central head of Medusa flanked by a floral scroll populated with tiny Erotes. A bead-and-reel molding defines the lower border. The background is pink, and the vines and upper and lower borders are gilded. Medusa has an idealized face, a pair of wings on her head, and pendant earrings. Her face is beige, her eyes white with black irises. Her hair and earrings are gilded, and her wings pink and blue. The strap handles, with their angular flanges, are pink with a gold stripe. The lower body is painted with large petals, turning the body into a kind of lotus. The front row of petals is blue below and pink above. A second row of petals behind and between them is red below and beige above. The black background above the tips of the petals continues on the reverse of the lower body, which is entirely black. The foot is white, and the fillet above it is gilded.
The rim of the lid is painted with broad pink leaves outlined in black on a white ground; above this, in front, is a plastic bead-and-reel molding. The complex knob has a pink, egg-shaped finial, with five yellow, upright, plastic leaves (one missing) above a yellow, plastic bead-and-reel molding. The shaft below is painted with pink, white, and yellow stripes, and below this is a large flange with an egg-and-dart molding painted pink and beige.
The painting on the conical, main zone of the lid is so badly damaged that only the basic composition can be reconstructed. The scene comprises two female servants who hold a pink object with vertical projections, perhaps a radiate stephane or a large and elaborate hat, over the head of a seated, veiled woman. The background is painted black. The female figures were painted entirely over a white ground. The servants have white skin, and their hair and features are drawn in red. They wear wreaths with large white leaves, white chitons, and striped himatia. Framing the scene on either side is a large ovoid form, which is flanked by a tendril that curls toward the figures.


By date unknown: with Elie Borowski, Angensteinerstrasse 7, Basel, Switzerland; purchased by MFA from Elie Borowski, May 13, 1970

Credit Line

Arthur Tracy Cabot Fund