An unusually large and decorative pair of Grand Tour bronze vases of ancient Greek volute krater form, mounted as lamps
Italy, 19th century.
Why we like them
We love the grand scale of these kraters and the finely executed relief decoration with a Bacchic scene and a sacrifice, evoking John Keats’ romantic poem “Ode to a Grecian Urn” (1819):
‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’
This shape was introduced in the late 6th century B.C. and was favoured by significant artists who worked in terracotta and in bronze. The earliest example in bronze belongs to the late 5th century B.C. and was found in a tomb in Agrigento. A characteristic of volute-krater handles is the fine articulation of the volute itself and of the lower terminals where they rested on the shoulder of the vase. Here, as in most metal examples, they assume the form of swans’ heads. A pair of handles of this design is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.