Sneak Peek

14 Jun 2024

Sneak Peek: A colossal vase near Limisso in Cyprus

PNT-00348 > A colossal vase near Limisso in Cyprus, Luigi Mayer (1755-1803), engraving, 1803

The Austro-Italian painter Luigi Mayer was commissioned by his patron, Sir Robert Ainslie, British ambassador to the Porte, to travel to the Ottoman dominions and illustrate the beauty of those lands. Ainslie wanted to publish a book with these views.

In 1803, a volume appeared published by Robert Bowyer titled ‘Views in the Ottoman Empire, chiefly in Caramania, a part of Asia hitherto unexplored’. The volume contained two views of Cyprus: ‘Antique fragments at Limisso’ and ‘A colossal vase near Limisso in Cyprus’. Two more watercolours remained unpublished in the hands of Robert Ainslie. Mayer was in Amathus in 1792, directed to the site by the locals. There were three more identical vases next to each other but destroyed. According to Mayer, the ancient vase was thirty feet in circumference and nine inches thick. Although made of stone, the inside sandy particles rubbed off easily on the fingers, emitting a smell resembling petroleum. The figure of a bull appearing in the hollow of its ears served as a mark to shoot out for wagers or as a trial of their skill. The hunters around it are depicted in Turkish costumes carrying arms, although the setting is of classical surroundings. The vase heralds from the ancient history of Cyprus, believed to have been used in ceremonial rituals for the Goddess Aphrodite, worshipped in Amathus.

The work follows the traditional style of the late 18th century topographical views made to illustrate travel books, informative and picturesque.

The vase, being a massive pythos, is now in the Louvre.

The 'Sneak Peek' series is supported by OPAP (Cyprus).

PNT-00348 Luigi Mayer (1755-1803) A colossal vase near Limisso in Cyprus 1803 engraving 30 x 37 cm.jpg

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