White-ground lekythoi were made almost exclusively for the use in funerary rituals, to store oil. The clay used for this technique turned white when fired and allowed potters to apply pigment on top, after firing. Initially the design was used on other shapes however around the middle of the 5th century the technique was used solely for lekythoi. One explanation for this shift could be the delicate nature of the white-slip, it did not survive well on pottery used frequently but could survive on the single-use funerary flasks. Scenes depicted on white-ground lekythoi usually depicted imagery related to death and funerary rituals.
Sir Frances Sacheveral Darwin, a relative of Charles Darwin, travelled in the Mediterranean and the East from 1808-1810, and was the only one of his companions to return alive. His diary of the tour details his burgeoning interest in antiquities.
To discover more about Ancient Greek pottery, please visit our relevant blog post: Collecting Ancient Greek Vases