Thursday, May 13, 2010


Version at BMCR home site
Angelika Schöne-Denkinger (ed.), Attisch rotfigurige Mischgefässe. Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum Deutschland, Bd. 86; Berlin, Bd. 11. München: Verlag C. H. Beck, 2009. Pp. 98; 23 p. ills., 84 p. of plates. ISBN 9783406593192. €98.00.
Reviewed by Mary B. Moore, Hunter College, CUNY

This welcome CVA presents 50 vases for mixing wine and water. Volute-kraters, column-kraters, calyx- and bell-kraters, stamnoi, a dinos, and fragments of shapes not yet identified comprise the Attic material. A calyx-krater and a bell-krater represent the Boeotian. Seven kraters were scientifically analyzed to determine if they are Attic or Boeotian (pp. 83-90). Jörg Denkinger provided the elegant profile drawings (Beilagen 1-15), also the painstaking tracings of inscriptions, graffiti and details of figures not visible in the photographs (figs. 1 - 27). The fabric of two kraters remains uncertain (pl. 73); included are several vases lost in World War II and known only from photographs or the Furtwängler descriptions, Beschreibung der Vasensammlung im Antiquarium, 1885 (Beilagen 19-23).

Schöne-Denkinger organized the material by shape, then chronologically. She gives a very useful account of the development of each shape from its inception to end of production and she describes every vase in meticulous detail beginning with measurements, volume (when possible), condition, then shape and ornament, followed by figural decoration. Comparanda for shape, subject and painter are as complete as one may hope for.

Volute-kraters.1 The first entry shows Eos pursuing a youth, probably Tithonos because he holds a lyre (pls. 1-4). Two non-joining fragments by the Niobid Painter depict Lapiths fighting Centaurs (pl. 4), a popular subject during the middle decades of the fifth century. The figures appear on multiple ground lines, an arrangement first used in vase painting by the Niobid Painter and his workshop colleagues. The identity of the axe-swinger on Fragment A is contested; the reviewer agrees with those who think he is Theseus. He and his adversary probably appeared in the middle of the composition on this side and the subject may have continued around the vase without interruption as it does on some of the other kraters from this workshop.

Column-kraters. Since this shape is older than the volute-krater, Schöne-Denkinger should have presented it first. One in the manner of Myson depicts scenes of daily life (pls. 5-6): a seated youth grasps a cheetah that has jumped onto his lap. Two youths accompany him, one gesturing with index and middle fingers extended. A stable scene appears on the reverse: an African groom blows dust off a curry brush; the horse is restive (two hoofs are off the ground). Schöne-Denkinger compared the similar scene on a cup by Onesimos in the Metropolitan Museum; perhaps the painter saw it. One of the Earlier Mannerists painted Dionysos reclining on a couch. An ithyphallic satyr approaches holding a kantharos he has filled with wine from a dinos placed in a tripod stand and he looks at the viewer, drawing attention to himself (pls. 7-8). Four of the column-kraters are 'dark' vases, i.e., only one or two figures on each side. The Harrow Painter painted a dejected-looking youth sitting on a stool, wrapped in a mantle; a winged goddess leans toward him, holding his head in both hands (pls. 9-10). This serious scene may represent Thetis comforting Achilles after the death of Patroklos, even though there does not seem to be a parallel. A youth by the Pan Painter stands before a herm, a quiet moment that does not prepare the viewer for the amply-proportioned woman on the other side lugging an enormous phallos (pl. 11). Schöne-Denkinger interprets the subject as a reference to the Haloa, an Eleusinian festival in which noisy, often lewd women danced around a large phallos symbol.2 On another krater, also by the Pan Painter (pl. 12), an energetic Herakles runs to left carrying two pointed amphorae full of wine, each with a stopper in its mouth, a rare feature. The hero's goal appears on the other side: a rustic fountain with the spout in the shape of a mule's head. The scene on the fourth 'dark' column-krater, in the manner of the Chicago Painter, is enigmatic (pl. 13): Athena runs to left looking back; an unidentified older man appears on the other side. Schöne-Denkinger remarks that the odd form of Athena's aegis (pl. 13, 3) is similar to the one worn by the Athena Parthenos which postdates the krater by nearly two decades. The name vase of the Orpheus Painter shows the hero sitting on a rock accompanying himself on his lyre in the presence of four Thracians (pls. 14-15). The two youths behind Orpheus are rapt in the beauty of his song; one faces the viewer, his eyes closed (pl. 15, 5), a touching moment with no hint of the hero's dark future. The Hephaistos Painter depicts one of the latest examples of Achilles and Ajax playing a board game, a subject more popular in Attic black-figure than it is in red-figure (pls. 16-18). Athena looks down at Achilles and on her outstretched right arm holds a Nike about to crown the hero with a wreath (pl. 17, 2).

Calyx-kraters. The most famous in this collection is by Euphronios, an early work dating about 515 B.C. (pls. 19-22). It shows athletes on each side in various poses that look like snapshots. A trainer points his right index finger at a discus-thrower named Antiphon, perhaps offering instruction (pl. 20, 2). Myson depicted a fight and warriors setting out, accompanied by two trumpeters (pls. 23-25). Of interest are the inscribed shield devices: an ithyphallic donkey (KALOS), a triskelos (HI[P]ON), a hound (KALOS), a raven (KA]LOS) and a lion, the inscription uncertain (figs. 10-14). The Villa Giulia Painter excerpted the death of Troilos (pls. 26-27): Polyxena runs to left, looking back, followed by Troilos on horseback. The viewer must imagine the fountain and Achilles. The Marlay Painter divided the format of his calyx-krater into double registers (pls. 28-29). The upper zone depicts the Anodos of a goddess (uncertain who) in the presence of Hermes and eight figures of Pan (each dancing) and it continues around without interruption; on each side of the lower zone, a lion confronts a bull. The next calyx-krater, dated early in the 4th century, is an oddity because the figures are applied in relief (pl. 30; Beil. 16, 1-2). On one side, the Theban Sphinx sits to right on a rock facing a youthful Oedipus. On the other Theseus slays the Minotaur before a rock or a cave (the entrance to the labyrinth?). On the right a woman stands frontally (Ariadne?). The last four calyx-kraters date in the 4th century. The most interesting of these depicts a fettered, lavishly bedecked Andromeda in the presence of Perseus, Aphrodite, Kepheus and Hermes, their names inscribed (pls. 31-33; color pl. 2, 1). The scene has a theatrical quality and the play by Euripides performed for the first time in 412 B. C. may have inspired the painter. A rare subject appears on the calyx-krater by a painter near the Painter of London F 64: Telephos kneels on an altar, having seized the young Orestes to take him hostage after his disguise as a beggar was revealed. Apollo sits above and to the left of the altar; unidentified figures are also present (pls. 34-35; color pl. 2, 2).

Bell-kraters. The earliest one in this CVAis by the Agrigento Painter (pl. 39). Its surface is badly damaged and today the figures (komasts) are difficult to discern. The name vase of the Klio Painter (pls. 40-41) shows Apollo holding a laurel branch or tree, Terpsichore sitting on a rock holding her lyre facing Kleio who stands before her (the names inscribed). The Dinos Painter depicted a youthful Dionysos sitting on a klismos in the company of two satyrs, one holding the god's kantharos, and a maenad carrying a tray laden with fruits or cakes (pls. 42-43). Griffins in a mythological context are a frequent occurrence by the late 5th century. An artist working in the manner of the Dinos Painter illustrated one of the earliest examples of Apollo riding one; it also includes Artemis, Leto and Hermes, announcing Apollo's return to Delphi from the land of the Hyperboreans in the North, where he resides in winter (pls. 44-45). A torch race with a plump youth running toward a herm is by the artistically-challenged Academy Painter, active in the late 5th century (pl. 46). Slightly later are rather conventional scenes of Dionysos and his entourage, one by the Meleager Painter (pls. 47-49) and one perhaps by the Painter of London F 64 (pls. 50-51 and color pl. 3, 1)). Unusual and unexpected subjects often appear on 4th century vases. The Pourtalès Painter shows Herakles, guided by Hermes, carrying Pluton through the Underworld, plodding through its watery realm indicated by waves and fish (the meander border overlaps the hero's feet signaling they are under water). An unidentified woman sits at the far left and a satyr comes in from the right (pls. 52-54 and color pl. 3, 2). Schöne-Denkinger interprets the gesture of his right hand as the aposkopein, but his hand does not touch his forehead (pl. 54, 4); it looks to me like a gesture of exclamation. On an unattributed krater, a youthful Dionysos appears on a panther accompanied by two satyrs, Eros, and a maenad beating a tympanum (pls. 56-58 and color pl. 4, 1).

Stamnoi. The first is unattributed and decorated in Six's technique (pl. 60): a barbiton player on each side. On the next there is just a small nude boxer on one side (pl. 61). The stamnos by the Syleus Painter is much more interesting (pls. 62-63): the Judgment of Paris. The youthful prince sits on a rock with a snake, a deer and a hedgehog on it or climbing it (pl. 63, 2). Hermes leads the winner, Aphrodite, identified by her dove. The Hephaisteion Painter painted Medea rejuvenating the ram in a cauldron of water laced with magic herbs, a deadly ruse played on Pelias but without the herbal essence (pls. 64-65).

The name vase of the Dinos Painter depicts a splendid Dionysiac thiasos (pls. 67-69 and color pl. 1). The god reclines on a decorative mattress in the presence of a satyr playing the lyre and maenads, one of them holding his kantharos, another with a tray of white cakes; other maenads and satyrs are present, two of them elderly, each leaning on a stick. A good time will be had by all. Several fragments conclude the Attic material. One of the best is still unattributed: Athena (pl. 69, 4). Another depicts part of a dignified old man with a scepter (pl. 70, 6).

A calyx-krater and a bell krater comprise the Boeotian material (pls. 71-72). One shows Athena sitting on a rock accompanied by a woman holding a torch and one holding a mirror. Satyrs and maenads decorate the other.

The fabric of two entries is not determined. One is a bell-krater with Dionysos in a cart drawn by mules on the obverse and a symplegma on the reverse (pl. 73, 1-3). The other, a fragment of the cul of a calyx-krater, preserves a frieze of upright encircled palmettes alternating with narrow lotuses (pl. 73, 4).

Appendix I. The column-krater and stamnos in this section were once in the Rothschild collection in Paris and at an unknown date became the property of Herrmann Göring. They had been mended from many fragments, some not-belonging, and in 1994-95, when more fragments of them were recognized, the two vases were taken apart, the new pieces added, and alien ones removed. The Hephaistos Painter decorated the column-krater: Dionysos on an ithyphallic mule, a maenad beating a tympanum and a satyr with a wineskin over his shoulder playing the aulos (pl. 78). A komos, the figures continuing around the vase, decorates the stamnos (pls. 79-80; Beil. 18).

Next are the lost pieces. Important among them: a fragment of a volute-krater or a stamnos by Phintias with warriors (Beil. 19: a fragment of it is in the Villa Giulia); a stamnos by the Copenhagen Painter depicting the Death of Aigisthos (Beil. 20, 1); two stamnoi by the Berlin Painter, one with Boreas pursuing Oreithyia (Beil, 20, 2), the other showing most of Dionysos with his kantharos and the upper part of a satyr playing an aulos (Beil. 21, 1); an unattributed calyx-krater with Apollo and Marsyas, known from the drawing in Overbeck Atlas der griechischen Kunstmythologie (Beil. 21, 1); and a bell-krater by the Pronomos Painter (Beil. 22, 1-2) depicting a youthful Dionysos sitting on a rock accompanied by two maenads, one with a lyre, a satyr holding an aulos and Eros hovering before the gods

Appendix II presents a scientific analysis of seven 4th century kraters accompanied by charts, tables and graphs, followed by a summary by Schöne-Denkinger One of the kraters appears to be a singleton: the analysis did not determine its fabric (pl. 73, 1-3). Two are Attic (pls. 34 and 36). The clay of the remaining four kraters is Boeotian (pls. 37, 59, 71 and 72). Three were attributed to Attic artists (the L. C. Group and the Painter of Athens 14627); recent study suggests that these painters might have worked in Boeotia and imitated the local style.

There are eight Indices: I, Concordance of Inventory Numbers, Plates and Supplementary Plates; II, Find spots; III, Collections; IV, Measurements; V, Technical Features; VI, Representations; VII, Inscriptions; and VIII, Potters, Painters and Workshops. The plate layout is very generous, the photographs are of the highest quality, and the many details informative. In short, this is an exemplary CVA.


1.   Add Agora XXX, pp. 23-26 to the bibliography for the shape (this reference appears in the bibliography for the other types of kraters).
2.   To the bibliography for this festival add: E. Simon, Festivals of Attica, 1983, pp. 35-37.

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