White-ground funerary lekythos

Achilles Painter-0440

Museo Arqueológico Nacional

Museo Arqueológico Nacional

White-ground lekythoi are perfume jars used in Athenian funerary rituals in the Classical era. The scene, however, offers us an intimate insight into the gynaeceum. A woman prepares for bathing, tended by her maid who offers her a perfume vessel. However, perhaps we can see a new meaning here, hidden beneath the guise of everyday life. This may be the preparation of the ritual bath of the young woman before her wedding, yet as it is a funerary vessel, it suggests it is before her wedding in Hades. The transition from girl to woman must be completed, if not in life, then in death. The groom Pluto, god of the underworld, was waiting in the kingdom of shadows for girls who had died without marrying. Composition and drawing come together to show the excellence of women’s bodies, their attitudes and gestures. Its sober elegance, the idealised atmosphere of the scene and the study of the ethos or noble nature, are not only an exaltation of the physical beauty of the figures but also of their moral beauty.

Show lessRead more


  • Title: White-ground funerary lekythos
  • Creator: Achilles Painter
  • Date Created: -0440
  • Location: Greece
  • Type: Pottery (Decorated using the outline technique and polychrome)
  • Rights: http://www.man.es/
  • External Link: CERES
  • Medium: Clay
  • Provenance: Attica
  • Original Tittle: Lécito funerario de fondo blanco
  • Designer: Achilles Painter
  • Cultural Context: Classical Greek Period