Terracotta kylix (drinking cup)

Attributed to the Ashby Painter

Period: Archaic

Date: ca. 500 B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: Overall: 5 x 16 in. (12.7 x 40.6cm)
diameter 12 7/8in. (32.7cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Purchase, Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat Gift and The Bothmer Purchase Fund, 1993

Accession Number: 1993.11.5


In Athens during the decades just before and after 500 B.C., vases used in symposia were prominent in the output of potters and painters. The exterior of this kylix, a shallow drinking cup, presents two vignettes of a symposium. On one side, a youth holds a kylix in his right hand and a keras (drinking horn) in his left; a professional entertainer plays the aulos in front of him. On the other side, a youth, deep in thought, stares out over his skyphos (deep drinking cup). He holds an aulos for the girl kneeling beside him and tying a scarf around her head. These depictions presuppose a knowledge of the work of the painter Euphronios. The conceit of a drinker looking out over a cup is preserved on at least two of the master's major vases, and may well be considered his invention. Contemporary artists such as the Ashby Painter reveled in the same subjects, providing their own interpretations as well as borrowing selectively.
The interior of this cup depicts a young man with armor testing his trumpet. The combination of warfare (on the interior) and the symposium (on the exterior) is common on late Archaic vases, for these were major civic and social activities of an Athenian citizen.