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Pictures from a Restitution: What the Met Will Get

Terracotta kylix (drinking cup), Greek, Attic, red-figure, ca. 515-510 B.C., Signed by Euxitheos as potter and Oltos as painter, Interior, running warrior, Exterior, obverse, assembly of gods on Mount Olympus; reverse, Dionysos mounting chariot among satyrs and maenads, 20½ inches diameter, Lent by the Republic of Italy
Photo: Direzione Generale per i Beni Archaeologici, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali

Look familiar?
The above kylix, which I discuss here, is the object selected from the list of Italy-owned pieces “of equivalent beauty and artistic/historic significance” to fill the big hole left in the Met’s collection by the departure to Italy of the celebrated Euphronios krater.
The consolation prize, on four-year loan, was created by the same potter, Euxitheos, who molded the Euphronios vase, but the painter in this case was Oltos. It’s nearly as wide as the vessel it is replacing, with the added attraction of a warrior running around inside. The Met already owns a psykter (wine cooler) by Oltos.
According to the Met’s press release (not yet online, as far as I can tell):
Because of its large scale, the cup would have been unwieldy for use in a symposium. It may have been created to be a magnificent offering.
To sweeten the pot, Italy threw in a couple of other vessels: First, a somewhat goofy-looking mug-on-a-jug. (The Met calls her “exquisite.” What do I know?) The potter is Charinos, who is thought to have possibly belonged to Euphronios’ workshop:
Terracotta vase in the form of a woman’s head, Greek, Attic, red-figure, white ground, ca. 500-490 B.C., signed by Charinos as potter, attributed to the Charino class of head vases, 8¼ inches high, Lent by the Republic of Italy
Photo: Direzione Generale per i Beni Archaeologici, Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali

The second bonus object is a bell-krater (for which the Met could not yet provide an image) from the Paestum region of southern Italy, 3rd quarter of the 4th century B.C., attributed to the painter Python.
This one comes with a complicated backstory:
The work is an important example of the so-called phlyax vases, named after a type of farce that parodied the weighty themes and traditional personages of mythology and drama, and shows one of the most serious and dramatic episodes in classical Greek drama: Oedipus solving the riddle of the sphinx. (The riddle is: what has four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three legs in the evening? The answer is: man, for he crawls on all fours as an infant, walks on two legs as an adult, and walks with a cane in old age.)
The sphinx sits on her rock, with a snake at its base. A satyr in full comic garb with a fleecy suit and accessories appears to be interrogating the sphinx while he extends a bird towards her. Since snakes and birds were credited with oracular powers in antiquity, this interpretation overturns the established story.

What are those “accessories” that come with the “fleecy suit,” we all wonder? We’ll find out Wednesday, when the Greek objects from Italy make their New York debut.

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