The lip, handles and exterior of this red-figure ware kylix, or drinking cup, are solid black. The interior consists of a tondo within which a figure of a youth is depicted walking to the right with his head turned to the left over his shoulder. The young man wears a himation and in his left hand holds a lyre; the right arm is extended behind. A border of meander and crossig square pattern frames the tondo. The entire central design is bordered off by a reddish-black background. The shallow body and the slender foot of this stemless kylix are black; the underneath of the foot consists of a black glaze outer edge followed by two circles (one reserved and the other black) and a central dot.
About 530 BCE., the color scheme of vase decoration was reversed so that figures were reserved in red clay color and the background was painted black. Instead of being incised with a sharp tool, details of anatomy or clothing were painted in with a brush, a process which gave the painter greater freedom of expression. This cup or kylix is an early example of the red-figure style. It has a flaring foot, low stem, and shallow bowl and is decorated on the inside with a dancing woman who holds krotala, or noisemakers like castanets. Inscribed around the circle are the words “KALOS KALOS” (beautiful beautiful). The painter of this scene is assumed to be Oltos, whose name is known from his signature on two other cups. Characteristic of his style are stocky figures with long, pointed noses and flat feet such as we see in this example. He also favored rather exaggerated running poses that involve sharply opposed directions of movement. Oltos worked at the time when the red-figure style was very new; hence, the drawing on this cup does not yet take full advantage of the range of possibilities inherent in the innovative technique, as for example, variation in the strength of lines used for contours and inner details.
-Diana Buitron, Curator, The Walters Art Gallery
The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum: Handbook of the Collection (1984)
ancient; archaeology; pottery; vessels; containers
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