The passing of Arthur Dale Trendall (1909–1995), one of the great classical archaeologists of our century and the leading international authority on South Italian vase painting and pottery, leaves a gap not easily filled in the ranks of expert advisers available to the National Gallery of Victoria.
A New Zealander trained in England, A. D. Trendall became Professor of Greek and Archaeology at the University of Sydney in 1939, and in 1956 was elected the first Master of University House in Canberra. Every year he visited Melbourne from Canberra to lecture to Professor Joseph Burke’s students in the Department of Fine Arts of the University of Melbourne, and soon established relations with (Sir) Daryl Lindsay, then Director of the National Gallery of Victoria. Between 1956 and 1992, as Honorary Consultant, Prof. Trendall assisted consecutive directors, as well as the boards of the Gallery and of the Felton Bequest, in the formation of a representative and remarkably fine collection of Greek and South Italian vases.
Outstanding among the opportunities for acquisition during this period was the 1980 sale at Christie’s, London, of the Marquess of Northampton’s famous vase collection, which had been at Castle Ashby since the 1820s. This sale enabled Melbourne to add to its collection three vases, including an early and spectacular amphora of Nicosthenic shape, made by Greek potters living in Etruria in the second half of the sixth century BC. The three Ashby vases bid for by the Gallery were presented by the Felton Bequest.
Also in 1980 the Art Foundation of Victoria empowered the Gallery to remedy a major deficiency in the collection by acquiring an Attic red-figured stamnos, c.480–450 BC, attributed to Hermonax. Decorated with a battle scene from the Trojan War, the stamnos shows figures whose garments, with their line parallel or wavy lines, are characteristic of the drawing style practised at the height of the classic red-figure period
A white-ground lekythos acquired in 1971 on Prof. Trendall’s recommendation shows a technique close to that of wall painting. In this work, made in the fifth century BC, the colours have been laid down in broad, soft strokes of the brush.
In honour of the donor of the fund from which the majority of the thirty-four vases he recommended were bought, Prof. Trendall in 1964 named the decorator of a newly excavated group of South Italian vases the ‘Felton Painter’; the example held in Melbourne became the ‘name vase’ of the group.1For an article by Prof. Trendall on the Felton Painter, see A. D. Trendall, ‘The Felton Painter and a Newly Acquired Apulian Comic Vase by His Hand’, in In Honour of Daryl Lindsay: Essays and Studies, eds F. Philipp & J. Stewart, Melbourne, 1964, pp. 45–52.
Prof. Trendall not only advised the Gallery when fine pieces came on the market, but also provided detailed information in the many articles he presented for publication to the Art Bulletin of Victoria.
Dale Trendall received a great many distinguished decorations, awards, honorary degrees and fellowships, both in Australia and overseas. One he cherished particularly was the Galileo Galilei Prize from Pisa, which he received in 1971, and which took the form of a female figure in gilt bronze on a green stone base, made c.1920 by the Italian sculptor Emilio Greco. In memory of his long association with the National Gallery of Victoria, Prof. Trendall presented the statuette to the Gallery in 1982 when his advisership officially came to an end.2For full biographical and bibliographical information, see A. Cambitoglou (ed.), Studies in Honour of Arthur Dale Trendall, Sydney, 1979.
1 For an article by Prof. Trendall on the Felton Painter, see A. D. Trendall, ‘The Felton Painter and a Newly Acquired Apulian Comic Vase by His Hand’, in In Honour of Daryl Lindsay: Essays and Studies, eds F. Philipp & J. Stewart, Melbourne, 1964, pp. 45–52.
2 For full biographical and bibliographical information, see A. Cambitoglou (ed.), Studies in Honour of Arthur Dale Trendall, Sydney, 1979.