The image on this lekythos (one-handled oil jug) marks the earliest known appearance of Eros, the god of love, in his role of archer. It predates by forty to fifty years the representation of the subject on one of the east metopes of the Parthenon. Before acquiring the bow and arrow, Eros pursued lovers with cruder weapons, such as an ax, whip, or a pair of sandals. Arrows would become his more common attribute because of their literary association as shafts of desire.
The lekythos is attributed to the Brygos Painter, a second-generation master of the red-figure style. Dating from c. 490–480 B.C., it is among his early works, and epitomizes the freshness and vigor of Late Archaic art. An acute observer, the Brygos Painter usually depicted scenes from daily life: revels, symposia, athletes, warriors with horses, men and youths courting, and erotic scenes. Here the figure of Eros, nude but for the mantle draped over his shoulders, has the artist’s typical poise and balance while retaining the potentiality for sudden movement: the figure is set frontally, his weight on his right, forward-moving foot, while his head turns back in profile as he draws his bow.
(Robin Symes Ltd., London);
purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1984.