Terracotta psykter (vase for cooling wine)

Attributed to Oltos

Period: Archaic

Date: ca. 520–510 B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: Overall: 13 5/8 x 11in. (34.6 x 28cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1910

Accession Number: 10.210.18


The continuous scene on this red-figure psykter, a vase for cooling wine, depicts young athletes and their trainers practicing in a gymnasium. The athletes are nude, as was customary, and the trainers wear mantles. The name of each figure is inscribed, occasionally with additional comments. A flute player, Smikythos, is making music to accompany the exercises. He wears a long chiton and the customary mouth band; a flute case made of spotted skin hangs by his side. In front of him, a broad jumper, Dorotheos, is swinging his weights; we are informed by the inscription that "he is going to jump." Kleainethos, the manager of the games, crowns a boy, "fair Epainetos," who is laden with branches. The boy's trainer, Alketes, stands behind him with two measuring sticks; he raises his hand in approval. There is a diskos thrower, Antiphanes, who readies himself for a backward swing. He is confronted by his trainer, Antimenes, holding a stick. Another youth, Batrachos, prepares to throw the javelin.
Drawn with strong, incisive lines, each figure stands out as a separate design, skillfully adjusted to the curving form of the vessel. The painting is attributed to Oltos, an artist whose signature appears on two kylikes, one in Berlin and another in Tarquinia. He is a master of the relief line, and his large, simple style has a monumental quality. Typical of the artist's work is the type of bearded trainer, shown here, wearing a mantle with radiating folds and zigzag edges. Likewise characteristic are the drapery folds stacked in one direction, and the hair regularly incised with a wavy line.