Terracotta loutrophoros (ceremonial vase for water), Attributed to the Darius Painter, Terracotta, Greek, South Italian, Apulian

Terracotta loutrophoros (ceremonial vase for water)

Attributed to the Darius Painter
Late Classical
ca. 340–330 B.C.
Greek, South Italian, Apulian
Terracotta; red-figure
H. 36 5/8 in. (93 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1911
Accession Number:
11.210.3a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 162
On the body, above, obverse, male deity adjudicating between Persephone and Aphrodite regarding Adonis; reverse, seated youth and woman with three women
Below, all around, youth at a stele (grave marker) between youths and women
On the shoulder, obverse and reverse, head of a woman
On the lid, head of a woman

The Tarentine predilection for disciplined yet exuberant embellishment is applied here to an imposing vase with deeply serious iconography. In the primary scene, Persephone and Aphrodite, who both laid claim to the beautiful hunter Adonis, await a judgment from the deity seated between them. He may be interpreted as Zeus or as Hades, ruler of the Underworld. Differing versions of the verdict allowed the hero to divide his time between the goddesses. In the zone below, a youth is isolated between a grave monument and a laver as figures approach from either side. The themes of death and the Underworld are complemented with luxuriant vegetation. The myth of the death and rebirth of Adonis is connected with seasonal change, and the abundant vegetation on this loutrophoros could symbolize rebirth, an appropriate theme for a funeral vase.
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