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Rare Attic Black-Figure Pelike by the Plousios Painter, C. 520-510 BC


This is an important work of art as only four other vases are known by this painter.
The same scene, with but slight variation in detail, decorates both sides of the vase. Two bearded males, each with stick in hand and himation wrapped closely about legs and waist, sit opposite one another at a gaming table. A large skyphoid krater, with oddly shaped handles, stands at their feet; a sapling in the background betokens a setting outdoors; and a small camp-stool contrasts with a more elaborate chair at right, whose curved back terminates in a duck’s head. One player has thrown a two; he signals two with the index and middle fingers of his raised right hand. His companion bends forward to retrieve the dice and take his turn. Gaming with six-sided dice or four-sided knucklebones was a popular pastime in ancient Greece. The nonsense inscriptions are scattered about the figured panels. There is a graffito under the foot.

Dr Dietrich von Bothmer has recognized the hand of the painter of the Borowski pelike on four other vases: pelikai in the Louvre and the Vatican; and neck-amphorae in Boston and Haifa (the latter two once assigned by J. D. Beazley to a “Smithy Painter”). Bothmer has christened his artist the Plousios Painter after an invocation to Zeus for wealth inscribed on the Vatican example. 

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