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GORGO MEDUSA APPLIQUE

Apulian, early 3rd century BC
Location: most likely Canosa

Large terracotta applique in the shape of the head of the winged Gorgo Medusa. The applique originates from an oversized, polychrome, plastically decorated Canosinian Askos. The present head was therefore located frontally on the front side, framed by two plastic horse protomes. Above and on the back the vase was decorated with three terracottaniks with high probability. Our applique corresponds to the Medusa appliques of the vases Princeton University Art Museum and Museo Archeologico Bari. Also the same model would be conceivable here. Another comparison of this Askos type comes from the Lagrasta tomb, today in the Louvre. This special form of figural decorated Askoi is especially typical for the Canosa region. It can be assumed that the production site of these baroque overcharged vessels, which appeared in Puglia at the end of the fourth century B.C. and can be traced back to the second half of the third century B.C., was also located there. The type is probably a further development of the so-called Skylla Askoi.

The Medusa face corresponds to the Hellenistic zeitgeist. It has lost all fearfulness and demonic appearance and seems humanly sweet. Only the wings and the strongly stylised snakes in the hair remind of the once ugly and thereby disaster repelling appearance. Despite the change in style, one still expects an apotrophic effect through the representation of Medusa.

This also explains the representation society with the horses (of Helios or the Nikes?) and the winged Nike at such vases, made only for the tomb.

In Greek mythology Medusa is a Gorgon, the daughter of the sea deities Phorkys and Keto as well as the sister of Stheno and Euryale. She was the only one of the three Gorgons with a mortal nature. Early pictorial representations of the Gorgons can be found in Greek black figure vase painting. Their distorted faces are marked by the large mouth area with numerous, often pointed teeth and out-hanging tongue. They have wings and snakes also occur early as body parts, but not necessarily on the head, but also on the shoulders. In contrast to the other human and mythological figures depicted in the archaic vase painting, their faces are not shown in profile, but in frontal view. Like the Egyptian god Bes and Silenos, the representation of Medusa experiences a humanisation in the representation, in the course of time and especially during Hellenism.

PRICE
3.500 EUR

PROVENANCE
Private property Switzerland since 1950
    Art trade Geneva
    Galerie Kunst der Antike
    Private Collection USA

LITERATURE
A study on Canosinian askoi

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