Loading Spinner

Lot 11: Greek Attic Pottery Kylix, Hoplite w/ Scorpion Shield

Artemis Gallery

July 14, 2022
Louisville, CO, US

More About this Item


Ancient Greece, Athens, ca. 500 to 480 BCE. Simply breathtaking! A sensational pottery kylix of an imposing scale boasting a classical form with impressively thin walls that dramatically flare outwards to a broad, circular rim above a shallow basin, all sitting upon a conical leg and a tiered, discoid foot. Enveloped by a lavish coat of lustrous black glaze, the refined dish features a simple yet elegant aesthetic with a meticulously painted tondo at the center of its basin comprised of a red-figure warrior, perhaps a hoplite or citizen soldier. Depicted mostly nude, the ancient warrior wears only greaves and a high-crested Corinthian helmet with cheek guards pushed up, showcasing his athletic physique. He poses dynamically, leaning back as if to dodge a blow; his right leg straightened as he shifts his weight to his bent left leg, appearing to balance on the toes of his left foot. Size: 15.4" Diameter x 4.6" H (39.1 cm x 11.7 cm)

His rigid right arm folds at both the elbow and wrist in order to point his short sword or xiphos toward his hefty, circular shield, which not only echoes the form of the vessel, but is also painted with the image of a scorpion - a common practice in Ancient Greece that was intended to intimidate one's enemies during battle. The soldier gently bows his head, his handsome visage comprised of almond-shaped eyes, a straight, traditional Greek nose, and a petite mouth engulfed in a moustache and pointed beard. A slender red circle encompasses the hoplite, which is echoed by the bare terracotta of the annular rim, as well as additional red rings on the base and foot. A truly captivating dish, shimmering with gorgeous speckles of silvery iridescence reminiscent of the Ancient World!

The hoplites were heavily armed foot soldiers of ancient Greece. Athens mandated that all 18- to 20-year-olds participate in military service; however, during times of war, all male citizens through the age of 60 could be asked to serve. Hoplites carried a large, round, bronze-faced shield known as a hoplon in one hand, as seen in this example, and, in the other, an eight-foot-long wooden spear with a leaf-shaped iron head and a bronze butt spike. The butt spike was known as a sauroter, a "lizard killer," and, if the spear was broken, could be used as a weapon on the remaining end. It could also be used to stand the spear in soft ground or as a digging tool. This hoplite, however, is instead making use of his secondary weapon: his xiphos or short sword.

The image of a scorpion was not only intended to instill fear in one's enemies by calling to mind the pain of its sting and deadliness of its venom, but may have also served an apotropaic purpose as the arachnid was additionally regarded for its natural defensive mechanisms: its hard exoskeleton, pincers, and stinger. Adding another layer to the iconographical symbolism of this vessel, in Greco-Roman mythology, Diana (Artemis) used the Scorpion to sting Orion's foot, resulting in his death. Following this event, Jupiter (Zeus) made the scorpion a zodiac sign. Furthermore, as a symbol of the Zodiac Scorpio sign, scorpions were also associated with water - perhaps a reference to the contents of this lovely dish.

Virtually no ancient Greek paintings have survived the tests of time. This makes the painted compositions found on ceramic vessels like this example invaluable sources of information about ancient Greek visual art. Refined dishes like this kylix were not merely utilitarian pottery, but rather works of art in their own right, highly prized throughout the classical world.

Perhaps the most exciting innovation in Greek vessel painting was the red-figure technique, invented in Athens around 525 BCE and beloved by other artists of Magna Graecia. The red-figure technique allowed for much greater flexibility as opposed to the black-figure technique, for now the artist could use a soft, pliable brush rather than a rigid metal graver to delineate interior details, play with the thickness of the lines, as well as build up or dilute glazes to create chromatic effects. The painter would create figures by outlining them in the natural red of the vase, and then enrich these figural forms with black lines to suggest volume, at times perspectival depth, and movement, bringing those silhouettes and their environs to life.

According to the Walter's Museum, "Kylikes were the most common form of drinking vessel in ancient Greece... the tondo in the center was revealed after the contents of the cup were consumed (the scenes were sometimes amusing as well as artistic)... At the end of a symposium, the reveler might have used this kylix to participate in a game of kottabos, which involved flinging the dregs of his wine from his cup at a target."

Kylikes featuring a similar bearded soldier with a scorpion shield and crested helmet can be found at Harvard Art Museums under object number 1927.149 and Walters Art Museum under accession number 48.2747.

Provenance: private East Coast collection, New York, New York, USA, acquired before 2010

All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to recent increases of shipments being seized by Australian & German customs (even for items with pre-UNESCO provenance), we will no longer ship most antiquities and ancient Chinese art to Australia & Germany. For categories of items that are acceptable to ship to Australia or Germany, please contact us directly or work with your local customs brokerage firm.

Display stands not described as included/custom in the item description are for photography purposes only and will not be included with the item upon shipping.


Condition Report

Professionally repaired with break lines visible. A few minor areas of repair and restoration to rim. Some areas of repainting. Otherwise, excellent and remarkably preserved with impressive remaining pigments and detail.

Request more information


Accepted forms of payment: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa


Auction House will ship, at Buyer's expense

Buyer's Premium


From: To: Increment:
$0 $299 $25
$300 $999 $50
$1,000 $1,999 $100
$2,000 $4,999 $250
$5,000 $9,999 $500
$10,000 $19,999 $1,000
$20,000 $49,999 $2,500
$50,000 $99,999 $5,000
$100,000 $199,999 $10,000
$200,000+ $20,000

Extended Bidding

5 minutes/bid

Antiquities, Pre-Columbian & Tribal Art

Please read the following "Terms of Sale" carefully. These terms are applicable to all bidders in this auction, collectors and dealers alike.

1. All items in this auction have been legally acquired, are legal to sell, and guaranteed to be as described or your money back.

2. By bidding in this auction, the bidder personally guarantees payment. The auctioneer has final discretion in all matters. In case of dispute, the lot(s) in question may be resold. Lots will be sold in their numerical sequence unless the auctioneer directs otherwise.

3. HIGH and LOW ESTIMATES are provided for each lot for reference only. All lots will be offered without any hidden / confidential reserve, meaning the highest bidder wins.

4. No lots will be released / shipped until payment has been made in full. Payment (in U.S. funds) may via credit card (MasterCard, Visa, Discover, AMEX), PayPal, or Bank Wire Transfer. For PayPal payments please use "[email protected]" email address for processing payments.

5. BUYER'S PREMIUM: A 26.5% Buyer's Premium will be added to the final price of each lot purchased through Artemis Gallery and will be paid by all bidders without exception.

6. CO SALES TAX: Appropriate Colorado Sales Tax will be added to all invoices, unless a valid CO seller's permit is on file with Artemis Gallery/Artemis Gallery Live prior to any bidding in the auction. Items shipped outside of CO (United States or international) are also sales tax exempt.

7. RETURN POLICY: In the event of an authenticity dispute, written notification of the dispute must be provided to Artemis Gallery within two business days from receipt of the item as shown by FedEx, UPS, or USPS tracking data. After Artemis Gallery is notified of the dispute, a written letter from a recognized expert in the field pertaining to the item in dispute must then be presented. If Artemis Gallery concludes that the assessment of the piece is accurate, a full refund, including item price, buyer's premium (if applicable), and shipping costs will be provided. Artemis Gallery will either provide a pre-paid return shipping label or will reimburse the return shipping charge. Artemis Gallery will only remit refund after the item has been returned.

In the event of an error in item description, condition report, provenance, or dimensions, written notification of the error must be given within two business days from receipt of the item as shown by FedEx, UPS, or USPS tracking data. A full refund, including item price, buyer's premium (if applicable), and shipping costs will be provided. Artemis Gallery will either provide a pre-paid return shipping label or will reimburse the return shipping charge. Artemis Gallery will only remit refund after the item has been returned.

If a return is requested for any reason other than the above, written notification with reason for return must be given within 15 days from receipt of the item as shown by FedEx, UPS, or USPS tracking data for Artemis Gallery to issue a refund to the original payment method. If notification is given after 15 days, the item may be returned for credit toward a future purchase or may be consigned for sale through Artemis Gallery. The item must be returned to Artemis Gallery at the buyer's expense and a refund or credit of the item price and buyer's premium (if applicable) will be provided after the item is returned. Original shipping charges will not be refunded.

All items to be returned must be adequately insured and must be received by Artemis Gallery in the same condition as when shipped. In no event may any item be returned after 90 days from the date of delivery.

8. SHIPPING: As a convenience to our buyers, shipping is handled in-house. All buyers will receive an invoice detailing their purchases, sales tax (if applicable), buyer's premium, and shipping/insurance charges. Items will be shipped only upon receipt of payment in full and will be insured for their full value. Please note, we are currently unable to ship to Germany and Australia due to customs clearance issues. We are working to resolve this issue. If you are in Germany or Australia, you will need to provide an alternate shipping destination, or we will not be able to complete your purchase.

**For shipments outside of the USA, customs and duties may apply upon entry into said country; this fee, if any, is the buyer's responsibility. Also, please be aware that Artemis Gallery will NOT falsify customs value on any international shipments - what you pay is what we declare, no exceptions. There are a small number of international countries we cannot ship to. If you have questions about this, please inquire BEFORE bidding**

9. REQUEST TO DELAY SHIPPING FOR LOTS WON: We are happy to delay shipping on all paid lots for up to 30 days with no storage fees. After 30 days, storage fees will accrue based on a 2% of invoice total.

10. In the event a successful bidder fails to make payment when due, Artemis Gallery reserves the right to re-sell the merchandise and bidder agrees to pay for the reasonable cost of such a sale and to pay any difference between the resale price and the previously successful bid, together with any incidental costs of sale and disbursements.

11. If the auction invoice is not paid for in full when due per invoice terms, including any applicable credit card processing fees, the unpaid balance will bear interest at the highest rate permitted by law until paid in full. If the matter is referred to an attorney for collection, bidder agrees to pay all reasonable attorney fees, court costs and other collection cost incurred by Artemis Gallery to collect past due invoices and that the services of process by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested, shall be sufficient to confer "in personam" jurisdiction over bidder.

12. Buyer agrees that any claim of controversy arising out of, or relating to the formation, interpretation of performance of these terms and underlying transactions or the breach thereof, is subject to arbitration or judicial proceedings and shall take place within the County of Boulder, CO subject to the laws of the State of Colorado.

13. QUESTIONS? Feel free to email us at [email protected] with questions prior to bidding or feel free to call us at 720-890-7700. Please be sure to ask all questions at least 30 minutes prior to auction start time, as we will not be able to take calls or answer emails sent to us during the auction.

Shipping Terms

Auction House will ship, at Buyer's expense

For Sale from Artemis Gallery