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A GREEK PARCEL GILT SILVER PATERA
A GREEK PARCEL GILT SILVER PATERA

LATE CLASSICAL TO EARLY HELLENISTIC PERIOD, CIRCA 4TH-EARLY 3RD CENTURY B.C.

Details
A GREEK PARCEL GILT SILVER PATERA
LATE CLASSICAL TO EARLY HELLENISTIC PERIOD, CIRCA 4TH-EARLY 3RD CENTURY B.C.
The shallow circular bowl of hammered sheet with an overhanging rim and a thin ring base, centered by a finely-detailed gilt Gorgoneion medallion in high relief, finely detailed, Medusa turned slightly to her left, wings emerging from the top of her long, wild wavy locks, her furrowed brow creased with wrinkles at the corner of her eyes, the pupils articulated, her chin dimpled, snakes forming her characteristic knot below, the rim gilt, with beading and ovolo, the separately-made cylindrical handle joined to the exterior below the rim in alignment with the Gorgoneion, the trilobed catch-plate flanged, terminating in a separately-made and inserted gilt facing head of Medusa, her wings in her short curling locks, with full cheeks and rounded chin
11½ in. (29.2 cm.) long; 7 1/8 in. (18.1 cm.) diameter
458.6 g
Provenance
U.K. Art Market, mid 1990s.

Condition Report

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Lot Essay

This form of a patera is thought to have functioned ritually as a libation vessel. While extremely rare in silver, the shape survives more often in bronze, with a plethora of bronze patera handles surviving from the Greek and Roman periods. However, the shape is known in silver since the Hellenistic period. See, for example, the silver patera with a ram head finial, no. 181-182 in Andronicus, Vergina, The Royal Tombs and the Ancient City.

Our knowledge of luxury silver vessels from antiquity is enriched by the great number of examples discovered in the excavations around the Bay of Naples, not only the vessels themselves but the wall-paintings in which they are portrayed. See, for instance, the tomb of C. Vestorio Prisco in Pompeii, which reveals the family's collection of silver, including cups, bowls, pitchers, rhyta and ladles atop the table, and its ritual vessels set below the table, including a large oinochoe and a patera of this shape, perhaps an heirloom (p. 121 in Oliver, Silver for the Gods, 800 Years of Greek and Roman Silver and www.pompeiipictures.net).

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