Attic Red-Figure Kylix

Object Details

Title:

Attic Red-Figure Kylix

Artist/Maker:

Attributed to Onesimos (Greek (Attic), active 500 - 480 B.C.)

Culture:

Greek (Attic)

Place:

Athens, Greece (Place created)

Date:

about 490 B.C.

Medium:

Terracotta

Object Number:

82.AE.14

Dimensions:

8.5 × 36.9 cm (3 3/8 × 14 1/2 in.)

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Scenes of revelry decorate this Athenian red-figure kylix or cup. On the interior, a nude woman reclines as she plays kottabos, a popular drinking game at the symposium (aristocratic male drinking party). With one handle of a deep drinking cup (skyphos) slipped over her index finger, she tries to flick the dregs from the bottom of the cup at a target some distance away.

The sympotic theme continues on the exterior. On one side, youths dance with skyphoi and krotala (castanet-like instruments). On the other, two more youths cavort and gesture around a nude woman, who reclines on a cushion, playing krotala.

The symposium was a male event, and when women were present, they were typically there to entertain or otherwise attend to the male participants. They are often shown performing music, helping the sick, or having sex. The nudity of the two women on this cup would have been inappropriate for respectable Athenian women, and they are either hetairai – mistresses or courtesans who would augment an evening’s drinking with their song, conversation and sexual allure – or prostitutes hired for the occasion.

Provenance
by 1981 - 1982

Nicolas Koutoulakis, 1910 - 1996 (Geneva, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1982.

Bibliography

Heinemann, Alexander. "Ungleiche Festgenossen: Spatarchaische Gelagegemeinschaften im Medium der Vasenmalerei." Christian Mann, et al. eds. Rollenbilder in der athenischen Demokratie, Medien, Gruppen, Raume im politischen und sozialen System, Beitrage zu einim interdisziplinaren Kolloquium in Freiburg i. Br., 24.-25. November 2006 (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2009), pp. 54-56, fig. 8.

Steiner, Deborah T. "Parting Shots: Aeschylus, Agamemnon 1384-98 and Symposia [...]." In The Cup of Song:Studies on Poetry and the Symposion. Vanessa Cazzato, Dirk Obbink, and Enrico Emanuele Prodi, eds. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), p. 159-83, p. 175; plate 20.