Greek Italian Pottery Oinochoe


A fine Gnathian oinochoe with a trefoil mouth and angular strap handle. The glossed black body features bands of decoration on the neck in red, white, and “gold” colour, which depict grapes and various motifs. There is a reserved band just above the foot. This is a relatively common and very elegant shape for this type of ware.

Date: Late 4th century BC
Condition: Very Good; a few minor chips and rubs to surface but complete and intact.


An oinochoe is a form of ancient Greek wine jug, which would likely have been used at the symposium (a male drinking party).

Southern Italy was populated by a large number of Greek colonies from the 8th century BC onwards – so much so that the Romans referred to the area as Magna Graecia – ‘Great Greece’. These Greek colonies were instrumental in bringing Greek culture and thought to Italy, greatly influencing Roman literature, philosophy, and material culture in turn. The city of Gnathia in southern Apulia, for instance, was famed for its pottery, with production of vases, oinochoe, and other wares beginning around 360 – 370 BC. A polychrome palette would then be used to decorate these ceramics, with the colourful paints being applied directly onto the pot’s black glaze – one of the defining traits of Gnathia-ware pottery. Here, the black gloss background has been painted with the typical palette of yellow, red and white, forming a pleasing motif around the neck of the oinochoe.

To find out more about different types of Greek vessel please see our relevant blog post: Collecting Greek Vases.


Weight 348 g
Dimensions H 16.2 cm

Pottery and Porcelain



Reference: cf. Hayes, J., Black-gloss Wares and Related Wares in the Royal Ontario Museum, 1984, nos. 237, 240