The small jar with its even smaller, almost miniature imagery is one of the best well-known pieces from the repertoire of Greek art with erotic or explicitly sexual content. No handbook on sexuality in ancient Greece could go without this scene of the intimate encounter between a seated boy and a young woman, probably a hetaere (courtesan). Nestled back in his chair, arms pinned to the seat, legs pressed together, his tunic around his knees and spread out around him, the young man is about to engage in the act of love with his fully naked partner who is very clearly taking the initiative. Considering the prevailing social standards and artistic conventions of the time, it is certain that she is meant to be a prostitute and not a respectable citizen. This is not refuted by the hint of intimacy evoked by the light touching of their heads and their eye contact. The tumble of long curls falling around his temples and neck are an unambiguous sign that the seated figure is a young man about to have his first sexual experience, probably at a symposium or brothel. The name of the vase painter from the High Classical period is not known to us. Around 80 clay vessels, mostly smaller in size and including a notable amount of jars have been attributed to him because of similarities in style; not one of these vessels has been signed. As an aid to archaeologists, he was given his current name by John D. Beazley after an amphora in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, which was probably acquired in the 18th century in Italy by the Russian collector Ivan Ivanovich Shuvalov. Most of the works that have been ascribed to this painter stem from Italy, in particular from the town of Spina near the Po delta, and Campania and Lucania in the south. He and his workshop in Athens were active between 440 und 410 BCE, in the time of Pericles and the Peloponnesian wars.


  • Title: True love?
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: -430
  • Location: Lokri (Southern Italy)
  • Physical Dimensions: h190 cm
  • Type: Wine Jar
  • Medium: Clay
  • Inv.-No.: F 2414
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-814319
  • External link: Altes Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Verlag Philipp von Zabern / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Martin Maischberger || Photo: © b p k - || Photo Agency / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Johannes Laurentius
  • Collection: Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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