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

ATTRIBUTED TO DOURIS AS PAINTER AND TO PYTHON AS POTTER CIRCA 480 B.C.

Details
AN ATTIC RED-FIGURED KYLIX
attributed to Douris as painter
and to Python as potter
circa 480 b.c.
Tondo: A maenad striding to the right but looking left, clad in a patterned sakkos, a chiton and a swallow-tailed himation, holding an up-ended thyrsos in her left hand and the tail of a cheetah in her right, an inscription to her right praising her beauty, enclosed within a band of single false meander squares alternating with crossed squares

Side A & B: The "Death of Pentheus," one side with the Theban women tearing to pieces their young king, with two women clad in chitons, panther skins knotted around their necks, each gripping an arm and Pentheus' head, his entrails spilling out from his torso, a woman, perhaps Pentheus' mother Agave, clad in a chiton to the left gazing skyward, clutching the king's mantle in her hands, further to the left a fourth woman in a chiton and himation grips a dismembered leg from which a bone protrudes, while to the right a kneeling nude satyr, his bearded face turned frontal, raises his hands in horror at the scene unfolding before him; the other side with a woman to the right wearing a chiton, her face turned frontal, holding Pentheus' thigh in her hands, a woman to her left in a chiton and himation, holding a leg aloft in her left hand, and to the far left a woman clad in a chiton, walking left but turning back, her head facing front, holding a thigh, while, between them, amidst the chaos, Dionysos calmly sits, holding his kantharos in his right hand and a vine branch in his left, looking back at a piping satyr; with palmettes below and on either side of the handles, the stem repaired in antiquity
11½ in. (29.2 cm) diameter
Literature
Guy in Leipen, et al., Glimpses of Excellence, A Selection of Greek Vases and Bronzes from the Elie Borowski Collection, no. 12.
Buitron-Oliver, Douris, A Master-Painter of Athenian Red-Figure Vases, no. 121, pl. 73.
Carpenter, Art and Myth in Ancient Greece, p. 80, no. 134.
Bazant and Berger-Doer, "Pentheus," in LIMC, Vol. VII,1, p. 312, no. 43, Vol. VII,2, p. 259.
Exhibited
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 18 Dec 1984 to 30 June 1985

Lot Essay

Pentheus, the young king of Thebes, affronted Dionysos following the god's conquests in the East by denying his divinity and refusing to let him be worshipped. However, the women of Thebes continued to worship him. When Pentheus attempted to spy on them, he was discovered and subsequently torn to pieces by the women who, in the throws of Dionysian frenzy, mistook him for a beast. It is this moment of Dionysos' revenge that is so graphically presented by Douris.

Guy (op. cit., p. 16) states that "both for quality of drawing and for state of preservation, the Pentheus cup assuredly ranks amongst the finest expressions of Douris's mature art; and a masterly example it is of collaboration between the artist and his long-term associate, the potter Python."
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