One of my favourite pieces from 2014 was a splendid Corinthian black-figured oinochoe, circa 640-625 B.C., attributed to an unknown artist who is today known as the Painter of Vatican 73. The figures painted on Corinthian vases, unlike their counterparts from Athens, frequently suffer surface degradation since the painted areas do not sinter well during firing, but here they are nearly perfectly preserved.
Secondly, it is spectacularly painted with animals and monsters that are meticulously detailed by incision and enhanced by the addition of red. Their arrangement display a perfection of balance and grace, the red and black contrasting with the natural cream ground.
Finally, the consignor knew that it was held in French collection in 1970 but everything before that was lost. Through my research, I was able to establish that it had previously been owned by the English scholar Sir Humfry Payne (1902-1936), one of the most outstanding archeologists of his generation. He was the author of an extensive study of early Corinthian vase painting, and the fact that he once owned this vase speaks volumes to its quality. It sold in the sale on 5 June for $137,000 against an estimate of $90,000-120,000.