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Attic Red-Figure Bilingual Cup Type A

Oltosabout 515 B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

Oltos was an important vase painter specializing in the decoration of bilingual and red-figure cups. He painted both the black-figure and the red-figure decoration of his bilinguals. Like most of his late bilingual eye-cups, this black-figure tondo bears the inscription, "Memnon is beautiful."

The figure painted in the tondo has no distinguishing attributes to aid identification. He is nude, except for a mantle thrown over his left shoulder and right arm. Touches of added red, an old-fashioned motif used in black-figure and characteristic of Oltos, embellish alternate folds of the mantle, as well as sections of the man's hair and beard. Like the figure in the tondo, the red-figured youth on the exterior of the cup is anonymous, in his case entirely nude except for a purplish added-red wreath around his head.

Bilingual vases were developed as a style of vase decoration in Athens around 525 B.C. They combine the two traditional Athenian vase-decoration techniques: the older technique of black-figure, and red-figure, the technique that would gain popularity and continue to be used through the fourth century B.C. On a black-figure vase, silhouettes in black gloss are contrasted against the red-orange clay of the vessel. On a red-figure vase, the forms come from the red-orange color of the clay, and the space around them is filled in with black gloss. Like most bilingual cups, this is an eye-cup, with large eyes painted on the red-figured exterior and a single black figure on the tondo of the interior. Red-figured palmettes appear at the handles, and a single red figure occupies the space between the large eyes on one side.

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  • Title: Attic Red-Figure Bilingual Cup Type A
  • Creator: Oltos, and Hischylos
  • Date: about 515 B.C.
  • Location Created: Athens, Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: 13 x 41.5 x 32.4 cm (5 1/8 x 16 5/16 x 12 3/4 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Terracotta
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Object Type: Cup
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 86.AE.276
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Greek (Attic)
  • Classification: Vessels


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