Classical vase known as a bell krater of red earthenware and painted with slip, Basilicata, ca. 390 BC.
Height: 30.3 cm, Diameter: 34 cm
British Galleries, room 120
From the collection of Thomas Hope. Made at Lucania, southern Italy
This bell-shaped vase, a 'krater' in Greek, was originally used for mixing wine and water. Thomas Hope, like many other collectors, admired the shape of these vases and their painted decoration. This one shows laurel leaves around the rim, anthemion or honeysuckle blossoms below the handles and a Greek key pattern around the bottom. [27/03/2003]
Classical vase known as a bell krater of red earthenware. With figures and ornament reserved in red on a ground of black pigment and partly painted with white and yellow pigments. Below the rim is a laurel wreath. Round the lower part of the body is a circuit of running meanders broken by crossed squares. Round the bases of the handles is a circuit of gadroons, and below each handle is a four-palmette with lateral spirals. On one side is a comic banquet. A naked bearded man reclines, flanked by two servants. On the other side are two draped youths facing one another.
The krater was an ancient Greek vase with two handles that was used to mix wine and water.
The vase was once owned by Thomas Hope (1769-1831), the collector, connoisseur, patron and designer, who published a number of influential books of designs. The most important of these publications was Household Furniture and Interior Decoration... (1807), illustrating objects he had designed for his London house at Duchess Street. In 1801 Hope purchased the second collection of ancient vases formed by Sir William Hamilton, formerly the British Ambassador to the Naples court. These formed the nucleus for Hope's own collection of vases, which he displayed at Duchess Street.
Materials & Technique
The vase is decorated in the 'red figure' technique in which the areas surrounding the figures are painted in a slip (mixture of clay and water), leaving the red pottery showing through. Careful control of the firing process allowed Greek potters to oxidise the body of the pot, turning it red, by keeping the kiln well ventilated. The kiln was then starved of oxygen and filled with carbon monoxide (by using wet fuel), causing the slip to turn black. The kiln was then again well ventilated. The fresh oxygen supply turned the pottery back to red. The firing was stopped before the slip turned red once again.