A combination of floral and animal designs arranged in four registers decorates the body of this Corinthian black-figure olpe, or pitcher. The four superimposed friezes repeat many of the animals that form the Corinthian vase-painter’s standard repertoire: lions, panthers, goats, deer, bulls, boars, swans. Dot-rosettes surround and separate the animals. Both the creatures and the filling ornaments are carefully laid out and meticulously drawn. Individual animals are depicted as if slowly moving forward in their distinct rows, although not all move in the same direction. Certain details, such as the animals’ manes and underbellies or the birds’ wings, are highlighted with the use of added red paint.
Friezes of real and fantastic animals as well as the rosettes filling the spaces in the background are characteristic of Corinthian art. However, the style was strongly influenced by the art of the ancient Near East. In the 7th century B.C., Greeks came into closer contact with their neighbors in the Near East, where repetitive bands of animal decoration were common. At the same time, Corinthian vessels such as this olpe were widely distributed throughout the Mediterranean, and the distinctive design was closely copied in a number of local pottery workshops, particularly in Ithaca, Etruria, and South Italy.