Terracotta vase

Period: Hellenistic

Date: 3rd–2nd century B.C.

Culture: Greek, Sicilian, Centuripe

Medium: Terracotta

Dimensions: H. 15 1/2 in. (39.4 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1953

Accession Number: 53.11.5


Perhaps the most noteworthy of the finds at Centuripe in Sicily is a series of vases, like this one, with ornamentation in relief and with figural scenes executed in tempera. Of local manufacture, these brightly colored vases were made exclusively for funerary purposes. Around the top of this vessel is a row of small lion heads in relief, painted yellow against a purple background. Below the lion heads is a band of Erotes and triglyphs. The foot of the vase is decorated with a row of acanthus leaves modeled in high relief and painted red, blue, pink, and yellow.
As is characteristic of this type of vase from Centuripe, the figural scene is confined to the front of the vessel. It illustrates a wedding scene set against a rich rose-pink background. The bride wears a long purple chiton with a yellow himation drawn up over her head to serve as a veil. She is handed a folded purple cloth by the figure at right. At left are two attendants, one of whom wears an ivy wreath and plays a tympanon.
This vase, like others in its class, was decorated in tempera after it was fired in the kiln so that a full range of colors could be achieved. The subtle mixed shades of pink, lavender, and blue, the carefully modeled flesh tones, and the effects of transparency in the drapery give some idea of the appearance of wall and panel paintings in antiquity.