A superb and completely intact red-figured krater from Poseidonia (Paestum), attributed to the painter Python (circa 360 - 320 B.C.). On the front we see the god Dionysos, looking youthful with long locks of hair, falling on his shoulders, and wearing a wreath. His mantle, ornamented with a dotted-stripe border, is wrapped around his lower body, beneath the hips and resting on his left arm.
He is offering a laden bowl to the person opposite him. This is Silenos, the usual companion of Dionysos, who according to some texts was also his tutor. It is also possible that this is one of the sileni, the elderly daimones in the following of Dionysos, fathers of the satyrs and sons of Silenos.
The reverse shows two “draped” or “mantled” youths. The figure on the left is standing at ease in a three-quarter attitude looking at the man in front of him. This second man holds a sprig which he seems to be presenting to the man on the left. Both figures lean against a white stick.
A floral decoration occupies the space below the handles, consisting of palmettes with enlarged scrolling tendrils.A horizontal band of wave pattern forms a ground for the figures. A laurel band is painted along the outside of the lip. Details were added in white, yellow and red.orange, sometimes light brown colour, and often the clay contains shiny specks of mica.
The painter Python was one of the most influential vase painters of his day. He worked together with Asteas, who was probably his tutor and also his colleague in their joint workshop. They are the only painters of red-figure vases in southern Italy who occasionally signed their work. Two vases are known that were signed by Python, one in the British Museum and one in the Paestum museum.
Dating: circa 350-340 B.C. or shortly afterwards.
Provenance: Swiss private collection of Max van Berchem (1863-1921); thereafter German private collection of Jörg Baron von Bistram, Bad Reichenhall, 1960s; thereafter London art market.