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Red-Figure Loutrophoros
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Painter of Louvre MNB 1148
Greek, Apulia, South Italy, about 330 B.C.
Terracotta
38 9/16 x 8 5/8 in.
82.AE.16

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The excessive mourning of the mythological figure Niobe decorates this Apulian red-figure loutrophoros. Niobe's foolish boasting led to the slaughter of her fourteen children by the gods Apollo and Artemis. For nine days and nights, she mourned, ignoring family members' attempts to comfort her. Finally, Zeus took pity on Niobe's grief and turned her to stone. On this vase, Niobe stands in a funerary naiskos surrounded by four attendants holding grave offerings. Her brother Pelops drives up in his chariot with his bride Hippodameia to urge her to stop grieving. By painting the lower part of her dress white, the painter indicated Niobe slowly turning to stone from the feet up. The back of the vase also depicts a funerary naiskos flanked by attendants and containing a large funerary lekythos. Both the structure and the vessel are painted white to represent stone.

Loutrophoroi, made of both terracotta and marble, were placed as markers on the graves of the unwed. In the scene on the front, two loutrophoroi flank Niobe. The one on the right with figural decoration is the same form as this vase. As these painted depictions show, this terracotta loutrophoros would originally have been placed on a stand.