An Attic Black Figure Dot Ivy Class Olpe, ca. 6th century BCE


The olpe is a type of wine-pitcher that resembles a modern tankard in shape. It is a very common type of vase in Athenian black-figure vase-painting in the late sixth century B.C., from about 525 to about 500 B.C. Dionysos, the wine-god and his male and female companions (satyrs and maenads) are often depicted on olpai, that subject being appropriate for the use of the shape, of course. On this vase, Dionysos holds a drinking horn (rhyton), and the satyr (who carries a full wineskin over his shoulder) and the meanad are dancing. This is an image characteristic of many olpai.

Many olpai are classified or identified according to style or according to their ornament. In the case of this vase, it is the latter (Andy Clark). The pattern above the picture is a debased form of ivy leaves divided by a vine, and it goes by the name of dot-ivy. This vase belongs to what is known as the Dot-ivy Class.

The incised marking, a Greek rho ("r"), is known as by the Italian term graffito ("engraved"). These marks were added either by the potter or by a merchant for identification purposes. In general, the specific meaning of a given graffito is not known, as is the case here.

Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall.

Dimensions: Height: 8 1/4 inches (21cm)

Provenance: Ex Frank Capra, Jr. (March 20, 1934 – December 19, 2007) collection, acquired 1980s.

Category: Ceramic, Over $10000

Type: Greek

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