AN ATTIC RED-FIGURED KYLIX
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AN ATTIC RED-FIGURED KYLIX

ATTRIBUTED TO THE PISTOXENOS PAINTER, CIRCA 480-460 B.C.

Details
AN ATTIC RED-FIGURED KYLIX
ATTRIBUTED TO THE PISTOXENOS PAINTER, CIRCA 480-460 B.C.
One side with Achilles killing Troilos, the Greek warrior to the left, wearing a crested helmet, cuirass and greaves, holding a shield in his left hand, spear in his right with which he lances the Trojan prince, slumping on horseback, wearing bordered chlamys and petasos, two archers behind him, each wearing a cuirass and greaves, traces of a Kalos inscription either side of troilos; the other side with another scene from the Trojan cycle, probably Ajax in combat with Hektor, the Greek to the left holding a shield on his left arm and plunging the spear in his right towards the fallen Trojan prince, on his knees but drawing his sword, nude save for a high crested helmet and greaves, carrying a shield in his left hand with blazon, another hoplite behind him launching a spear at Ajax, wearing a crested helmet, cuirass and greaves, a shield in his left hand decorated with buchrania and Kalos inscribed below, a fourth warrior behind Ajax, the remains of a Kalos inscription just below the rim; the tondo with a mounted horseman, wearing a petasos, bordered chlamys and sandals, carrying two spears in his right hand and looking back, with traces of a Kalos inscription reading 'the boy is beautiful' either side of his head, enclosed within a band of meander
15 ¾ in. (37 cm.) diam. incl. handles
Provenance
Michael Waltz (1938-2010) collection, Germany, acquired 1970s.
Sammlung Waltz; Gorny & Mosch, Munich, 14 December 2011, lot 55.
Special notice

These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.
Sale room notice
Please note there are three Kalos inscriptions on this kylix, one on either side and another on the tondo.

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Georgiana Aitken

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Lot Essay

This important kylix depicts two iconic scenes from the Trojan War, a popular subject-matter amongst Greek vase painters. On one side Troilos, son of the Trojan king Priam, is ambushed and attacked by Achilles, in response to the prophecy that Troy would not fall as long as the young prince lived. This scene of disarray is in contrast to the composure of the youth on horseback depicted on the tondo. However, the striking similarities between the two horses and the attire of the young men suggests that the tondo may depict Troilos before he is attacked, capturing the young man’s innocence and beauty as he proceeds unaware of what is about to befall him.

On the other side, Hektor is depicted in conflict with Ajax in one of several duels between the two men recorded in Homer’s Iliad. Likely represented here is the occasion in Book VII when Ajax is selected by lot to join his mighty opponent in single combat. The painter has chosen to capture the Trojan in a moment of difficulty, though his rendering in the ‘heroic nude’ reassures the viewer of his status as the hero of the Trojan cause.

The lack of a divine presence in these scenes is somewhat surprising, given that the Olympians Athena and Apollo are commonly included in such compositions. This notable exclusion, along with the painter’s decision to capture the two Trojans in moments of heightened pathos, suggests a desire to highlight the fragility of mortal life and the futility of the human condition, inevitable truths from which not even the great heroes of the epic tradition could escape.

The Pistoxenos Painter, active between circa 480 and 460 B.C., was a painter of the largest workshop in Athens specialising in cups, and his execution has been lauded for its "graceful style" (A. J. Clark et al., Understanding Greek Vases, Los Angeles, 2002, p. 58). He frequently depicted horses and warriors, his sensitive treatment of which is expressed in the present lot. S. D. Markman notes that his work "reveals his knowledge of the habits of the horse", and suggests that he "had closely observed" the animal engaged in a variety of activities (The Horse in Greek Art, New York, 1969, p. 56).

For a similar red-figured depiction of Troilos on horseback wearing chlamys and petasos and being attacked by Achilles, cf. A. Kossatz-Deissmann, 'Troilos', Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae vol. VIII, 1997, Zurich and Düsseldorf, p. 93, no. 11. For a similar representation of Hektor in combat with Ajax, cf. an Attic red-figured kylix by Douris in the Louvre, inv. no. G115.

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