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Graecia Magna: Apulia

Description: Red Figure Bowl (skyphos?) Buff tan brown clay with black gloss over whole varying from dull to metallic, applied red decoration. Deep rounded bowl on discoid base with two plano-convex handles flanking rim. Lady of fashion, hair tied back on top of head with fillet attached with various objects in the field decorates both sides, palmette complex beneath either handle, wave motif encircling rim.
Period: 4th Century BC
Size: 6.5cm(H) x 19.5cm(W) / 3"(H) x 8"(W), 4.5" (11.5cm) across bowl.
Comment: Apulia is the "heel" of Italy.

Apulian vase painting

Apulian vase painting was the leading South Italian vase painting tradition between 430 and 300 BC. Of the circa 20,000 surviving specimens of Italian red-figure vases, about half are from Apulian production, while the rest is from the four other centres of production, namely Paestum, Campania, Lucania and Sicily.

The main production centre for Apulian vases was at Taras, the only large Greek polis in Apulia. Two styles, the "Plain Style" and the "Ornate Style" (sometimes "Rich Style") are distinguished. The first largely eschews additional colouring and was mostly used for the decoration of bell kraters, colonet kraters and smaller vessels. Their decoration is quite simple, the pictorial compositions usually include one to four figures (eg. Sisyphus Painter, Tarporley Painter). The motifs focus on mythical subjects, but also include women's heads, warriors in scenes of battle or departure, and dionysiac thiasos imagery. The backs usually have depcitions of cloaked youths. After the middle of the fourth century, the simple style became stylistically increasingly similar to the ornate one (eg. Varrese Painter.

The Apulian vase painters had considerable influence on the painters of the other South Italian traditions. Some of the appear to have moved to cities other than Taras, such as eg. Canosa. Apart from red-figure pottery, black-glazed vases with painted decoration (Gnathia vases) and polychrome vases (Canosa Vases) were also produced. The South Italian clays are less rich in iron than the Attic ones. As a result, the clay would not reach the rich red known from Attic red-figure vases. This was compensated by the addition of slips of light ochre clay before firing, which also produced smoother surfaces.

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