Monday, August 4, 2014


Angelika Schöne-Denkinger (ed.), Attisch rotfigurige und schwarzgefirnisste Peliken, Loutrophoren und Lebetes Gamikoi. Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum Deutschland, Bd. 95. Berlin, Antikensammlung ehemals Antiquarium, Bd 15. München: Verlag C. H. Beck, 2014. Pp. 82; 16 p. of figures, 80 p. of plates. ISBN 9783406661457. €98.00.

Reviewed by Mary B. Moore, Hunter College, CUNY (

Version at BMCR home site

This fascicule contains 51 Attic vases: 31 red-figured and 3 black-glazed pelikai, 9 loutrophoroi, and 8 lebetes-gamikoi. In addition, several pelikai and two lebetes destroyed in World War II are briefly described and illustrated in black and white photographs (Beilagen 14-16). The Foreword presents a concise history of the collection which began in 1826. The period of greatest growth was between 1875 and the early years of the 20th century. Restorations are by Priska Schilling and Bernd Zimmermann. The 80 plates of superb color photographs fully illustrating each vase are by Johannes Laurentius. Drawings in the text and the profiles (Beilagen 1-11) are by Jörg Denkinger.

Each entry follows the CVA format: provenance (when known), measurements, bibliography, condition, shape and ornament, subject, then comparanda for painter, shape and representation. The comparanda are especially detailed. Particularly welcome is the careful description of preliminary sketch, which is very difficult to see in photographs. Also useful is a 1:1 photograph of each graffito incised on the underside of the foot (e.g., pls. 8, 4; 17, 5).

The pelike was invented in the late 6th century B.C. by Attic painters decorating vases in the red-figured technique; it continues until the third quarter of the 4th, but is most popular in the last decades of the 5th. The pelike is a special form of amphora with a pear-shaped body, a torus mouth and foot, and segmental vertical handles. It was used to store wine and oil; some of the larger ones contained the ashes of a deceased person. The broad surface of the body offers ample room for many-figured compositions , but is equally suited to a single figure. This CVA illustrates very well the wide range of subjects that decorate pelikai.

F 2170 (pls. 1-2), attributed to the Kleophrades Painter, bears an inscription on its neck that names Epiktetos as its painter, but it may not be authentic (p. 15 for a brief discussion, bibliography and fig. 1). On each side, a woman stands quietly.

V.I. 3154 (pls. 3-4) depicts Herakles dressed in a chiton over his lionskin on Side A and Theseus on Side B, but it is not clear who is the man standing before Herakles or who the opponent of Theseus is because neither has an attribute.

V.I. 4560 (pls. 5-6) shows scenes from daily life. On Side A, a youth reaches into a louterion (labelled KALOS on p. 18, fig. 4) while another kneels on the ground holding a sponge; on Side B, a youth leans on a stick before a pillar. On Side A of V.I. 3189 (pls. 7-8), Apollo attacks Tityos (name inscribed but misspelled, p. 20, fig. 5) with a machaira, even though the monster is already wounded by arrows.

The scene on Side A of V.I. 4496 (pls. 9-11) by the Syriskos Painter takes place in the women's quarters. A woman holds up a mirror; another holds the end of a fold of her chiton between her teeth while she ties her belt.

Sometimes representations are odd. The fountain scene of a woman gathering water on Side A of F 2173 (pls. 12, 1 and 13, 1and 3) by the Geras Painter looks like many others, but unexpectedly, the fountain continues on Side B where an ithyphallic satyr rushes in to prevent his amphora from overflowing (pls. 12, 2 and 13, 2 and 4).

Another odd scene occurs on Side A of V.I. 3317 (pl. 14): Herakles, his club held high, is about to bring it down on a strange little winged figure he holds aloft. There seems to be no iconographic prototype for this figure. He looks like Geras, but Geras is never winged.

F 2166 (pl. 15), a particularly beautiful fragment by the Argos Painter that dates ca. 480 B.C., shows a quiet scene between three deities: Nike pours a libation into a phiale held out by Zeus and Poseidon stands behind her holding a phiale (p. 25, figs. 8-10: names inscribed), perhaps in thanks for victory over the Persians (p. 26).

On 1962.62 (pls. 16-17) by the Pan Painter, an unidentified youth in a tall wool cap steers a pig by its right hind leg toward a frontal herm, an offering to Hermes.

Strange avian scenes appear on the next two pelikai. On each side of V.I. 4283 (pl. 18), a fragment by the Pan Painter, there is a bird-man, a creature that so far has no parallel in Attic vase painting, but is known in Etruscan (p. 28). On Side B of F 2172 by the Perseus Painter (pls. 19, 2; 20, 2 and 5), a huge bird perches on the elongated penis of a herm, its beak touching the herm's lips (pl. 20, 5).

On Side A of F 2355 (pls. 25-26), the Achilles Painter depicted a quiet scene between Oedipus and the Sphinx.

On Side A F 2357 (pl. 29) in the Manner of the Washing Painter, a youth stands beside his horse preparing to mount, a remarkable resemblance to the scene on Slab 13 of the West frieze of the Parthenon. Especially similar is the right foot of the youth nudging the right front hoof of the horse forward so it will be parallel with the left, a motif that does not seem to occur elsewhere. Schöne-Denkinger notes that some have questioned whether the actual slab served as a prototype or if the painter had access to a drawing. This reviewer believes the frieze itself was the model, because only a few details differ slightly. Even given the distance from ground to frieze, the general composition would have been clear to the painter.1

On F 2356 (pl. 30), also in the Manner of the Washing Painter, a fully armed warrior wears a most unusual helmet that does not seem to have a parallel: on its calotte, an eagle holds a snake in its beak (pl. 30, 4).

F 2625 (pls. 35-37), a very early fourth century pelike near the Painter of Louvre G 433, presents a vigorous Amazonomachy on Side A. An Amazon mounted on a rearing white horse to right looks back at a fleeing Greek with spear poised, while in front of her another flees from an Amazon in the upper part of the composition, overlapped by a ground line (pl. 37, 4); in the upper left, a Greek blows a salpinx (pl. 37, 2). The use of multiple ground lines overlapping the figures as well as the subject may be indebted to wall painting, although this is an open question. 1989.1 (pls. 38-40), in the Manner of the Painter of Munich 2365, depicts a splendid Grypomachy on Side A. A fierce griffin (a winged lion with the neck and head of a raptor) attacks an Amazon who has fallen to left; her Amazon sisters gesticulate helplessly.

V.I. 4982,40 (pls. 41-42, 1-3) is an unattributed late pelike that shows half of a white herm standing on a white altar, flanked by a maenad to left and Pan running away to right looking back while holding a large phiale with his left hand and forearm.

Pls. 43-44 present late pelikai with images of a woman or a woman's head and a horse protome; mantled youths; griffins. Three are from Group G (Grypomachy) or its Circle, one is by the Amazon Painter. These painters, though quite productive, are noticeably lacking in talent. Their drawing is coarse, some of the figures hardly recognizable.

Pl. 45 concludes the series of pelikai with four black-glazed vessels (F 2366, F 2368, F 2389), one with a ribbed body (V.I. 4982,65). Pls. 46-47 very usefully illustrate each pelike so that the reader may observe their comparable sizes at a glance.

The loutrophoros was associated with weddings and funerals and is found mainly in Athens and its environs. Known as early as 700 B.C., it is a tall elegant vessel with a slender ovoid body supported by a foot in two degrees and a very slender neck joined to a flaring mouth. There are two types of loutrophoros: the amphora and the hydria.2 Two flat upright handles that reach from the shoulder to just below the mouth separate front from back and define the amphora. For the hydria, two small upright handles on the shoulder divide the two sides and a tall vertical one in back helps to steady the vase when in use. The author gives a very good discussion of the loutrophoros: function, types, etc. (pp. 49-50). All of the loutrophoroi in the Berlin Museum are amphorae.

31008 (pls. 48-52, 1-2), has some connection to the Orchard Painter and the Boreas Painter. It depicts a youth lying-in-state mourned by women and men, one an old man with white hair and beard. Two columns indicate an interior setting. On each side of the neck is a mourning woman.

F 2632 (pl. 52, 3-6) is the lower section of an unattributed neck fragment with the deceased lying-in-state on one side and the tomb with a mourner on the other.

1993.244 (pl. 53, 1), a neck fragment in the manner of the Kleophon Painter, preserves part of an elegant youth wearing a chlamys and a white petasos.

F 2372 (pls. 54-57) depicts the bridal procession to the home (indicated by a column) of the groom with both parents inside awaiting the arrival of the wedded pair. The youthful groom lifts his bride into a chariot, Eros flies toward her and the driver stands in the vehicle holding the reins, but the horses are not shown, probably because the narrow format did not provide enough space. The rollout of the composition on pl. 56 is especially helpful for clarifying the scene.

F 2374 (pls. 58-61, 1-2) preserves an interior scene in the women's quarters. A youth (the groom) holds a mirror up to the bride (p. 57, fig. 15) and a woman ties her garment with a thin red band (p. 57, fig. 16). It is very unusual for the groom to appear in such a scene.

F 2373 (pls. 62-65) in the Manner of the Meidias Painter is another interior scene of the decking out of the bride (pl. 64 for the rollout, p. 59, fig. 18 for a 1:1 drawing: detail of the central figures).

V.I. 3209 and Athens, N.M. 26821 (pls. 66-70; Beil. 12, 4 for a reconstruction; Beil. 13 for the Athens portion of the vase). Manner of the Talos Painter. The author gives a good history of this loutrophoros and the bibliography is copious (pp. 61-62). In the plates and in the rollout (pl. 68), the Berlin fragments are outlined in white, those in Athens with red.The main scene is a visit to the grave, indicated by a stepped base surmounted by a pillar topped by an acanthus. Broken white lekythoi lie on the steps (pl. 70, 4). The deceased is shown as a hunter mounted on a spirited white horse. Women, youths and an old man complete the scene. An Amazonomachy appears in the frieze below.

The lebes gamikos is a vessel connected with weddings that also has a long history in Athens reaching back to the early 6th century B.C. It has a broad, ovoid body usually supported by a stand, upright handles, a short neck and a lid. The author gives a very good detailed history of the shape and its cogent features.

F 2404 and F 2405 (pls. 71-77) both by the Sabouroff Painter depict the decking out of the bride who sits in a chair attended by women. Nike, holding a floral, flies below each handle. On the stand is a procession of women.

The remainder of the lebetes gamikoi are small, with nuptial scenes (pls. 78-79, 1-3). F 2406 (pl. 78) depicts women before the slightly open door of a house (p. 71, fig. 24), one seated holding a mirror, the others with various objects. 1985.30 (pl. 79, 4-8) shows two female protomes, a swan and a panther. F 2649 (pl. 79, 9-11) is a small stand with women and an altar. The latest lebes in the group, a standless one, is F 2937 (pl. 80) from the L.C. Group dating ca. 330-320 showing women with gifts in the presence of Nikai.

The text concludes with nine indices. 1, Concordance of Inventory Numbers, Plates and Beilagen. 2, Provenances. 3, Collections and Purchases. 4, Measurements. 5, Technical Features. 6, Subjects. 7, Inscriptions. 8, Painters and Workshops. 9, Beilagen Drawings.


1.   See the article by Clemente Marconi, "The Parthenon Frieze. Degrees of Visibility," RES Anthropology and Aesthetics 55/56, 2009, pp. 157-173.
2.   For a figure of Eros carrying a loutrophoros of each type, see the unattributed fragment of a loutrophoros-amphora in Oxford 1966.888, ex coll. Beazley (M. Moore, Agora XXX, p. 145-146), sub cat. no. 78; for a good color photograph, see E. Reeder, Pandora, Women in Classical Greece, Baltimore, 1995, pp. 168-169, cat. no. 25.

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