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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Archive : Apulian Red-Figured Knob-Handled Patera
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Apulian Red-Figured Knob-Handled Patera - DC.111
Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 340 BC
Dimensions: 14.94" (37.9cm) high
Collection: Classical
Medium: Terracotta
Condition: Fine

Additional Information: Attributed to the Menzies Group


Art Logic--With Donati Arte Classica, Lugano c.1980s, The Property of Swiss Collector, Christie's (New York) 2007

Location: UAE

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This patera depicts a meeting between Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, and her winged son Eros, known to the Roman and modern world as Cupid. While from Italy, this piece is made very much in the spirit of Greece, as it was the Greeks who colonised the coast of Italy in the fourth and fifth centuries BC to establish what they called Magna Graecia. Much of what the Romans later went on to achieve is based upon this colonisation process, and this is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in sculptural and painting traditions.

Aphrodite sits upon a throne of rocks, or perhaps molluscs, while her son stands before her, a patera in his outstretched left hand, offering her a piece of fruit. In his lowered right hand he too, holds a wreath; this dual portrayal of wreaths may indicate that the mother and son have been represented in the midst of sanctifying or preparing a union of mortals, and that this is perhaps a matrimonially- inclined piece of fine ceramic. Aphrodite holds what appears to be a fan – or perhaps an ornate sceptre – in her right hand as if in benediction. Her hair is ornately arranged and a bird trailing ribbons across the sky hovers above her head. What appears to be the letter “M” above the duo is actually a fillet which was often worn draped around the head. The drapery has been expertly executed especially the textile hung over Eros’ arm and the ornate folded garments of his mother. They are surrounded by a ring of geometric waves, which is in turn surrounded by a white wreath of vine leaves that adds further to the matrimonial tone of the piece. On the back of the patera, Eros holds a tympanum.

The piece is delicately executed and well- preserved, with detailing and fine paintwork intact. The timbre of the patera indicates that its function was ceremonial, with religious and celebratory overtones. Mythological imagery was rarely used without due consideration or rationale, and it seems likely that this piece was made for a special occasion or perhaps the commemoration of one such. This is a striking and attractive piece of ancient art. - (DC.111)


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