Terracotta loutrophoros (ceremonial vase for water)

Attributed to the Metope Painter

Period: Late Classical

Date: 3rd quarter of the 4th century B.C.

Culture: Greek, South Italian, Apulian

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: 34 3/4 in. (88.3 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Purchase, The Bernard and Audrey Aronson Charitable Trust Gift, in memory of her beloved husband, Bernard Aronson, 1995

Accession Number: 1995.45.1


This imposing and beautifully executed vase, together with its counterpart 1995.45.2, is of exceptional interest for the architectural structure on the obverse. A small naiskos, rendered with three columns, encloses a woman, her maid, who holds out a small casket, and a metal loutrophoros. Between the level on which they stand and the podium for the shrine are two panels with a pair of confronted lions. The podium itself consists of an upper frieze of triglyphs, alternating with metopes showing Greeks fighting Amazons. The lower element is covered with tendrils enclosing a female head. Although naiskoi are common on Apulian vases, the complexity and elaboration here are unusual. The unresolved question is to what extent the representation reflects actual funerary structures and the limestone reliefs familiar especially from Tarentum.