Thursday, February 25, 2016


Elke Böhr, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. Deutschland, Band 98. München, Antikensammlungen ehemals Museum Antiker Kleinkunst, Band 18; Attisch Bilingue und Rotfigurige Schalen. Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, 2015. Pp. 159; 21 p. of figures, 84 p. of plates. ISBN 9783406677489. €98.00.

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

Version at BMCR home site

In Attic Greek vase painting of the 6th and 5th centuries B.C., the drinking cup is the most popular shape and many painters specialized in decorating it. Attic cups are found in more contexts than any other shape. They were dedicated in sanctuaries, placed in tombs of citizens, found in remains of public buildings and in those of private houses as well as in many excavations as chance finds. The subjects that decorate drinking cups are more varied that those on other shapes whose use is sometimes restrictive, such as Panathenaic prize amphorae and white ground lekythoi. On cups themes range from the numerous deeds of the gods and the adventures of the heroes, noble or otherwise, to a very wide variety of scenes of daily life.

This most welcome new Munich CVA fascicule presents all of the museum's Attic bilingual and red-figured drinking cups of the late 6th century, a period that produced an interplay between the black-figured and red-figured techniques as well as experiments with coral red and added clay. The cups in this fascicule precede in date those in the previous Munich fascicule which contained the ones created during the time of the Persian Wars.1 Thus, the two fascicules make a pair and they illustrate how rich the Munich collection of archaic cups is. The fascicule reviewed here includes cups by many potters and painters active in the last quarter of the 6th century B.C., among them Psiax, Phintias and Euphronios, Oltos and Epiketos, the Epeleios Painter, Hischylos, Pamphaios and Kachrylion. Many of the cups bear inscriptions: signatures, names of mythological figures and kalos names. Most of the drawings in the text are produced at a scale of 1:1. This is an added bonus to the superb black and white photographs, including 1:1 photos of every tondo. Pls. 83-84 illustrate the underside of each foot.2

For each cup, Böhr begins with the provenance (if known), detailed measurements, and a complete bibliography, first the Beazley references, then all the citations starting with the very earliest (many as early as by Otto Jahn in 1854), a great convenience for anyone interested in the full history of the cup. The present condition and restorations, as well as ancient repairs, are well described. Next come detailed comments on the shape, added color, and ornament and copious comparanda. The text concludes with ten indices: 1: Concordance of Inventory Numbers, Plates and Beilagen; 2: Provenances; 3: Collections and Gifts; 4: Shapes; 5: Measurements and Volume Capacity; 6: Workshops, Potters, Painters; 7: Technical Features; 8: Inscriptions; 9: Subjects; 10: Drawings not in the Text.

The fascicule begins with the bilingual cups decorated in black-figure in the tondo and in red-figure on the outside (pls. 1-8). They may be dated from about 520 to 500 B.C. Böhr (p. 15) gives a brief history of the shape and the bibliography subsequent to Beth Cohen's full study of bilingual vases in her 1978 dissertation.2 The earliest bilingual cups in the Munich collection are three eye-cups by Oltos or by a painter in his Circle (pls. 1-4). In the tondo of 7580 (pl. 4, 4), a large hound scratches his shoulder and looks up, indicating how good this feels. The tondo of 2584 ( pl. 7, 6), attributed to Pheidippos, depicts a nude older man squatting to left, looking back. Böhr notes the influence of Epiktetos in this unusual pose and cites bibliography. 2603 (pl. 8, 4) is signed by Psiax (no verb) who painted a lively satyr running to right holding a very full wineskin; pl. 8, 6 illustrates his head with open mouth and teeth.

The next section presents the red-figured eye-cups (pls. 9-14). On Side A of 8323 by Psiax (pls. 9-11), a kneeling archer with his back to the viewer is about to release an arrow (pl. 10, 3). His right leg is strongly foreshortened, a drawing feature that becomes more frequent later. On Side B, a youth holds a Boeotian shield emblazoned with a snake and a gecko, the latter an unusual device (pl. 11, 6). 8956/111 (pl. 14, 10), perhaps by Euphronios, joins a fragment (111) from the Akropolis (Beil. 18, 1).

The red-figured cups comprise the rest of this fascicule (pls. 15-82). The earliest is 8953 (pl. 15 and fig. 12) signed by Euphronios, decorated on the inside only with an Amazon running to right, looking back, holding out a shield (device: a Gorgoneion). The most important item is the large famous cup signed by Euphronios as painter and by Kachrylion as potter, 2620 (pls. 16-21). The 1:1 photo and drawing of the tondo (pl. 17, 2 and fig. 14) with the rider controlling his restive horse are most informative.3 The exterior of this cup depicts a Herakles and Geryon with Athena and a wounded Eurytion on Side A, the cattle and hoplites on Side B. Böhr's treatment of this cup (pp. 40-53) will be the best one to consult for a very long time. Phintias signed 2590 (pls. 22-23): Herakles and Alkyoneus (both inscribed) appear on Side A and a struggle for a tripod on Side B. There are five cups by Oltos (pls. 24-32, 1-4). The most important is 2618 (pls. 26-29) which takes the observer to Troy and depicts the Ransom of Hektor. Side A shows the tragic moment of the Ransom, specifically the desperate anxiety of Priam seeking the return of his son and the callousness of the banquetingAchilles, his head turned away from the king (names inscribed). The corpse of Hektor lies beneath the hero's elaborate couch and next to a table laden with food. The scene continues on Side B with the tribute, three beautiful horses led by youths. Two cups related to the Scheurleer Painter, decorated on the inside only, offer more cheerful scenes. On 2591 (pl. 33, 1-2), a satyr grasping a large pointed amphora looks into it intensely, anticipating the pleasure to come, and on 2592 (pl. 33, 5-6), a youth lugs a huge sack(?) about to empty its contents into a basket on the ground. The fun continues with frolicking satyrs and maenads on 2589 (pls. 34-35) by the Chelis Painter.

Other scenes from daily life interspersed with myth complete the fascicule. In the tondo of 2588 (pls. 36, 4-5) attributed to the Hischylos Painter (signed by potter), a youthful athlete bends over slightly using a pick. Side A shows two youths arming in the presence of a woman and on Side B, a youth holding two spears leads a muzzled horse (pl. 37, 5-6). 2619 (pls. 38-39), a fragmentary cup by Epiktetos continues the subject of youthful warriors, some on horseback. There are several cups by the Euergides Painter (pls. 41-49) with subjects pertaining to the mythical world as well as daily life, sometimes on the same cup, e.g. 2609 (pls. 42-43) with a running warrior in the tondo and two pairs fighting on Side B; on Side A, a warrior mounts a chariot, Hermes stands in front of it, and Eros flies above the horses holding out a wreath. 2605 (pls. 46-47) concentrates on youthful athletes. A fragment, 8956/4.16 (pl. 49, 7) depicts a youth between two horses (legs of the youth, forelegs of each horse, hind leg of right one). The horses are not galloping as Böhr suggests (p. 100), but rearing and the youth is trying to restrain them. 2607 (pls. 52-53) focuses on youthful symposiasts, although a rather serious one looks down at his writing tablet (pl. 53, 4). 2620 A (pls. 54-55), connected with works by the Nikosthenes Painter, depicts Herakles wrestling with the Lion on Side A. Much of the glaze has flaked on the Lion's head and mane— the photo on pl. 55,1 depicts an excellent detail of the preliminary sketch. Below handle B/A. there is a wasp (pl. 55, 10).3 The tondo of 2610 (pls. 58-59), by a painter in the circle of the Nikosthenes Painter, shows a youth dressed as a woman with her arms extended over an altar that has a curved up oxtail on it, a ritual at the Oschorphoria Festival (p. 114 for a detailed discussion). Silens and maenads are frequent figures on Attic red-figured cups of the late 6th century. Four cup tondi may stand for many. 2613 (pl. 60, 4) by the Poseidon Painter depicts an ithyphallic silen holding a large pointed amphora looking out at the viewer as if inviting him to join the bibulous festivities. 2619 A (pl. 63, 4) by the Epeleios Painter illustrates a crouching silen pouring wine from a full skin into a wreathed column-krater. His slightly open mouth suggests he may be singing (p. 119, fig. 7). 2595 (pl. 68, 2-3), also by the Epeleios Painter, shows a maenad running to left, looking back, holding a serpent in her outstretched right hand and a thyrsos at waist level in her left. 2611 (pl. 70, 4), in the manner of the Epeleios Painter, presents a balding silen with open mouth who moves to right looking back, holding a drinking horn in his right hand and a mostly empty wineskin in his left. This party is over, but on Sides A and B (pl. 71) where youths gather around a column-krater the party is in full swing. Particularly memorable is 7493 (pl. 76, 8-10), by an unnamed artist near Apollodoros and the Hermaios Painter: a young man gently holds a fighting cock in his right hand. Two scenes of myth conclude the fascicule. In the tondo of 2614 (pl. 77), the Ambrosios Painter depicted a sensitive image of Hermes running to right, looking back. The scenes on Sides A and B depict a lively komos. The final cup in this exemplary fascicule is 8771 (pl. 82) by the Elpinikos Painter and shows a very tense Theseus about to defeat Sinis who looks terrified (pl. 82, 6).


1.   Pfisterer-Haas, S., Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. Deutschland, Band 88. München, Antikensammlungen ehemals Museum Antiker Kleinkunst, Band 16. Attisch rotfigurige Schalen , Munich, 2010.
2.   In her Introduction, Böhr thanks many colleagues who helped to produce this CVA. Uta Strnischtie did most of the restoration, aided by Anton Buhl and Elisabeth Lehr. Much of the photography is by Renate Kühling who was particularly attentive to the size of each cup and all the pertinent details for its illustration. Special thanks go to Jürgen Schilbach for the profile drawings (Beil. 1-17, all 1:1 and very instructive) as well as drawings of details which appear in the text. Stephanis Czogalla detected and drew all of the preliminary sketch (a detail often merely mentioned). The names of many other colleagues who helped in various ways are also included (p. 8), in particular Thomas Mannack of the Beazley Archive who provided photographs of lost vases and Paul Zanker who aided in the preparation of the fascicule for its publication.
3.   Böhr (p. 49) thinks that the open mouth of this horse indicates he is whinnying; he is more likely responding to his rider's hold on the reins; usually horses stand still when they whinny.
4.   For bibliography on wasps, Böhr cites Agora P 24061 (Agora XXX, p. 256, no. 82; the catalogue number is 829.

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