• Red-figured Psykter: Four Hetaerae

    height: 35,5 cm

Red-figured Psykter: Four Hetaerae

Created: Attica. 505- 500 BC


Psykter is a vessel standing on a tall cylindrical foot, which was used for cooling wine. The psykter was filled with wine and then set inside a crater holding cold water. This example is the only signed work by Euphronius, a leading Greek vase-painter, in the Hermitage collection. Euphronius has depicted a genre scene. Lying on a couch with richly coloured cushions and mattresses are four naked hetaerae (practicants of free love) feasting. One plays a double flute, while Agape holds out a cup of wine to her. Palaisto, whose face looks directly out at us, drinks from another cup. Smikros scatters the last drops of wine from a cup in honour of her loved one: the nearby inscription reads "To you I throw this [drop], Leagros". Other inscriptions provide the names of the heterae and of the master: "Euphronius painted". The composition is simple, the figures rather flat. Euphronius is not interested in complex foreshortening, adhering closely to the decorative principles of art of the Archaic Period, which demanded that the silhouette image and the form of the vase itself should be in perfect harmony. His great gift is revealed in the drawing, with confident pure lines which mark out the contours of these monumental figures. Euphronius belonged to the so-called Pioneers Group of masters who contributed greatly to the development of the red-figure technique in vase-painting (the images were formed of reserved red areas of unpainted clay, while the background was filled in with black lacquer), which appeared in the workshop of Andocides around 530 BC.


Red-figured Psykter: Four Hetaerae





height: 35,5 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1862; originally in the Marquis Campana collection in Rome

Inventory Number:



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