Three recently acquired Greek vases


During the past two years (1977–78) three notable additions have been made to the collection of Greek pottery in the National Gallery, each of which illustrates an aspect of Greek vase-painting not previously represented. One is an East Greek moulded vase in the shape of a helmeted warrior’s head, dating to the early years of the 6th century B.C.; two are colonial Greek from South Italy, one a typical piece by the Amykos Painter, one of the pioneers of the early Lucanian style in the last quarter of the 5th century B.C., the other Campanian from the school of the Cassandra Painter around the middle of the 4th. 

1 Rhodian plastic vase (D314/1977) in the shape of a helmeted head (figs. 1–2) Presented by the National Gallery Women’s Association 

Vases moulded in human, animal or vegetable form were made by potters in antiquity at most periods and in many places, if not in very large quantities. They are usually referred to as ‘plastic vases’,1 On plastic vases in general see Μ. I. Maximova, Les vases plastiques dan l’antiquité, Paris, 1927; R. A. Higgins, Catalogue of the Terracottas in the British Museum, vol. II, London, 1959; on Rhodian in particular, Jean Ducat, Les vases plastiques rhodiens, Paris, 1966, where an annotated bibliography will be found on pp. 4–6; and on the chronology, Otfried von Vacano in Bonner Jahrbücher, 176, 1976, pp. 33–43 . from the Greek verb plassein = to mould. Many of them come from the East Greek island of Rhodes, where their manufacture was especially popular between c. 610 and 550 B.C.; they were also made on the Greek mainland, notably at Corinth and later at Athens, although in a rather different style. The Greek colonists in South Italy frequently imported them and many Rhodian and Corinthian plastic vases come from Magna Graecia, though their import seems to have died away after c. 540 B.C. when their manufacture must virtually have come to an end. 

 

                                                                                                                                                           The earliest of such vases were sometimes thrown on the wheel and then modelled by hand; however, from c. 600 onward, for most of them two moulds were used, one for the front and the other for the back, and the resulting products joined together2 Higgins, op. cit., pp. 9–10. and worked over. The plastic vases from Rhodes are decorated in a manner similar to that used for contemporary pots of larger dimensions; the terracotta, which ranges in colour from a creamy white to a pale orange-buff, is covered where necessary by black glaze, enlivened by the addition of purple-red and white and by the use of incision for details. Most of these vases are comparatively small, between 6 and 11 cm in height, and they seem to have been used as perfume-containers, clearly made for the luxury trade. They must count as some of the most attractive products of the Rhodian potters’ workshops, and assume a wide variety of shapes, among which helmeted heads and female busts are perhaps the most common, followed by birds, animals, animal-heads, sea-shells, and even selected parts of the human body such as legs or sandalled feet. 

The Melbourne vase3 Accession no. D 314/1977. Ht. 6.8 cm. Forman coll., Sale Cat., Sotheby, 19 June 1899. no. 271; Torr coll., Sale Cat, Sotheby, 2 July 1929, pl. 8, no. 8, and 10 April 1934, no. 127, 1; Hearst coll., Sale Cat., Parke-Bernet, New York, 5 April 1963, no. 1; Classical Art: André Emmerich Gallery, N.Y., 1977, p. 16, no. 16 (ill ); Ducat, op. cit., p. 12, no. Ε 18. (figs. 1–2) is a typical example of a helmeted head. The helmet4 On such helmets see, in particular, Kukahn, Der griechische Helm, Marburg, 1936; R. Μ Cook in Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, British Museum 8. text, pp. 15–16; Anthony Snodgrass, Early Greek Armour, Edinburgh, 1964, p. 31; Κ. H. Edrich, Der ionische Helm, 1969. worn by the warrior is an Ionian variant of the so-called Corinthian type, with cheek-pieces in black with a red border, and a semi-circular front-piece above the forehead, decorated with an incised ‘honeysuckle’ palmette, partly coloured red and partly black. The front-piece is surmounted by a projection with a ridge; this continues down the back, interrupted by the vase-mouth which is decorated with dots, and corresponds to what on an actual helmet would have served to hold the crest. It is probable that the decoration in its essentials corresponds closely with that of real helmets.   

Very little of the warrior’s face is visible, but we may note the large almond-shaped eyes in which the whites are rendered in white paint and the lids and pupils in dark purple; there is a small moustache but no beard. Jean Ducat, in his recent study of Rhodian plastic vases, subdivides the helmeted heads into ten different groups on ground of style and decoration; ours finds a place in his Group E, the vases in which are characterised by the comparative squatness of the head, the fine and precise modelling of the face and the ‘honeysuckle’ decoration on the front-piece. The group includes some twenty vases, of which one in the British Museum5 B.M. A 1118; Higgins, op. cit. no. 1620, pl. 10, 1–3 – a full discussion, with extensive bibliography, is given on pp. 18–20; Ducat, p. 11, no. Ε 1. and two in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford6 Oxford 1879.137–8; 1921.1354 = CVA 2, II D, pl. 8, 1–3, text, pp. 85–6; Ducat, nos. Ε 2–4. A head in New York (Metr. Mus. 41. 162.38 = (CVA, Gallatin coll., pl. 33, 5 = Ducat, no. Ε 7.) is also very close., are closely comparable to ours; they all date to the very beginning of the 6th century, c. 600–590 B.C. 

The vase has had a long history. In the second half of the 19th century it was in the collection of W. H. Forman at Pipbrook in Surrey, who lent it to the National Exhibition of Works of Art at Leeds in 1868; when his collection was sold at Sotheby’s in 1899 it was acquired by Cecil Torr, the famous author of Ancient Ships, and later passed into the hands of William Randolph Hearst. After the sale of part of his collection in New York in 1963 it was acquired by a private collector (Eric de Kolb), and has now reached what we may hope will be its final destination in Melbourne. 

2 Early Lucanian column-krater (D 150/1977) by the Amykos Painter7 Accession no. D 150/1977. Ht 42.5 cm. Christie’s Sale Cat., 16 March 1977, no. 211, pl. 23; Some Recent Acquisitions 1976/77, N.G.V., Melbourne, 1977, no. 93 (ill ); Trendall, Greek Vases in the N.G.V , Melbourne, 1978, pp. 14–15, pl. 9. For the Amykos Painter see Trendall, The Red-figured Vases of Lucania, Campania and Sicily, Oxford, 1967 (= LCS), pp. 29 ff.; a list of his other column-kraters will be found on pp. 40–41, nos. 176–83, and p. 44, no. 214, with addenda in Suppl. I (Bulletin Inst. Class. Studies, London, Suppl. no. 26, 1970), p. 7, no. 177a, and in Rocha Pereira, Humanitas, 27–8, 1976, pp. 229–30, pls. 1–4, where a newly rediscovered vase in Lisbon is published. (figs. 3–4). Felton Bequest. 

About 440 B.C. the Greek colonists in South Italy began to supplement their imports of red-figured vases from Athens with locally-made products, at first closely modelled upon Attic prototypes, later developing marked regional characteristics. By the end of the 5th century there were two well-established local schools of vase-painters, each with an individual style, though still with many features in common. At the head of the first school stand the Pisticci and Amykos Painters, who may be regarded as the fore-runners of the developed Lucanian style of the 4th century. The two great pioneers of the second school, which was almost certainly located at Taranto, are the Painter of the Berlin Dancing Girl and the Sisyphus Painter. The former is well represented in our collection by the pelike (1391/5) showing an Amazonomachy,8 Trendall, Greek Vases in the N.G.V., p. 16, pl. 11 a-b. a subject very popular with that artist and typical of the greater fondness of this school for mythological themes. 

We do not yet know exactly where the first Early Lucanian vase-painters began to work but the origins of the fabric have been plausibly connected with the foundation of Thurii in 443 B.C., although no vases from the Pisticci-Amykos workshop have so far been found at that site, the excavation of which is still in progress. Heraclea (the modern Policoro), where several very important Early Lucanian vases have recently come to light, is another possible centre of manufacture, and it should be noted that it is only about 20 km south of Metaponto where, thanks to the discovery there in 1973 of a kiln together with a dump containing numerous fragments of vases by the Creusa and Dolon Painters,9 See D. Adamesteanu, Metaponto, Naples, 1973, pp. 27–29; Trendall apud M. W. Frederiksen, Arch Reports, no. 23, 1976–7, p. 54. The finds are soon to be published by Dr F. D’Andria, who gives a preliminary account of them in Magna Graecia, 12, 1977 (March–April), pp. 1 ff. the two principal Lucanian artists of the second generation, we now know that their workshop must, at least for some time, have been located. By the beginning of the second quarter of the 4th century, however, these artists seem to have moved into the Lucanian hinterland, and from then on Lucanian vases are seldom found in Apulia or the immediately adjoining area. But off from the main stream of artistic development, the local style soon degenerated into something that is at best provincial and at worst almost completely barbarised.   

The new vase well exemplifies the developed style of the Amykos Painter and may be dated towards the end of the 5th century B.C. It is a column-krater,10 On this shape see Richter and Milne, Shapes and Names of Athenian Vases, New York, 1935, p. 7; J. V. Noble, Techniques of Attic Painted Pottery, New York, 1965, p. 18; and for its early history T. Bakir, Der Kolonettenkrater in Korinth and Attika zwischen 625 und 550 v. Chr., Würzburg, 1974. so called from its column-like handles, each of which consists of a pair of cylindrical rods terminating in a horizontal member extending from the rim. Like the other varieties of krater (bell – e.g. nos. D 1/1976 and D 14/1973 = Greek Vases in the N.G.V., pls. 7 and 14b; volute – e.g. nos. 1369/5 and D 88/ 1969, op. cit., pls. 10 and 13; calyx – not represented here) it was used for the mixing of wine and water. The shape first appears in mainland Greece late in the 7th century B.C.; in Athens it remained in common use until the end of the third quarter of the 5th, after which it rapidly waned in popularity. In South Italy column-kraters, clearly based on Attic models of c. 440–30 B.C., appear among the products of both of the early schools of vase-painters, but it is only in Apulia that they continue to be made in considerable quantities throughout the 4th century, perhaps because the shape seems to have had a particular appeal to the native inhabitants of that province. Many of these vases depict warriors or youths wearing the local Oscan costume,11 See Trendall, Gli Indigeni nella pittura italiota, Taranto, 1971, and id. and Cambitoglou, The Red- figured Vases of Apulia, Oxford, 1978, p. 15. and this suggests that they were probably intended for the native market rather than for the Tarentine Greeks. 

The Amykos Painter, who takes his name from the scene on the shoulder of a hydria in the Cabinet des Médailles in Paris showing the punishment of Amykos,12 LCS, p. 36, no. 136, pl. 12, 1–2. is the most important and the most productive of the first school of early Lucanian vase-painters, and to his hand about a hundred vases may now be ascribed, including eleven column-kraters, to which ours must now be added. It is a shape he favours for scenes with warriors or athletes, since the greater area at his disposal for the pictures enables him to depict upon them compositions on a slightly larger scale than would have been possible on the somewhat smaller bell-kraters which comprise more than half of his extant works. On his column-kraters the neck of the obverse (fig. 3) is normally decorated with a panel of ivy-pattern, but left plain black on the reverse (Fig. 4); the edge of the mouth may also be patterned with ivy, but there is no band of meander-pattern below the pictures, as is usually the case on bell-kraters and in Apulian. Around the rim there is a laurel-wreath in red-figure on the obverse; on the reverse, two rows of black dots separated by a line; on other column-kraters we find instead a band of black-figure animals in this area (e.g. fig. 5), again under the influence of contemporary Attic.13 Cf. column-kraters by the Painter of the Louvre Centauromachy (e.g. Louvre G 405 = CVA 4, Ill I d, pl. 29, 4, 6 and 10), the Eupolis Painter (e.g. Vienna 725 = CVA, pl. 94, 4–5), or the Painter of Munich 2335 (e.g. Vienna 681 and 823 = CVA, pl. 98).

The scene on the obverse (fig. 3), which is very typical of the Amykos Painter’s work, is taken from the palaestra (wrestling ground; training place for athletes) and shows two groups of figures, each consisting of a draped woman facing a youth, nude save for a piece of drapery over one arm; one holds a pair of knotty poles, the other a staff. The woman to the left, who wears a long, sleeveless tunic, has a fillet in her hand; the other, wrapped in a himation (cloak) over her tunic, holds up a wreath with which to crown the youth standing beside her. It is a characteristic palaestra scene in which the successful athlete is about to receive some recognition of his prowess. On the reverse (fig. 4) are four draped youths grouped in matching pairs; the one to the left grasps a stick in his extended right hand and faces the other, who is completely enveloped in his himation, which is so draped as to produce an almost collar-like effect around the neck. 

Similar scenes recur on many other vases by this painter, among which a column-krater in Berlin (fig. 5) may be taken as typical. They illustrate his use of stock figures and poses, e.g. the draped woman with the double black stripe down her tunic, the woman or youth with one arm bent at the elbow, a figure holding some object in the upraised right hand. In quantity the constant repetition of such figures tends to produce a sense of monotony, which is less apparent in a single vase. 

This previously unknown work by the Amykos Painter was acquired through the Felton Bequest at a sale at Christie’s in London in March 1977; it came from the collection of the late Comte Alberic du Chastel de la Howarderie in Belgium, and one could hardly find a better piece to illustrate the standard type of vase being produced by the Amykos Painter in the last two decades of the 5th century B.C.

3 Campanian bell-krater (D 27/1979) by the Boating Painter 14 Accession no. D 27/1979. Ht. 31.2 cm. Trendall, LCS, p. 246, no. 1; Corbett in Christie’s Sale Cat., 30 April 1975, p. 31, no. 42, pl. 16, 1–2. (figs. 6–7). Felton Bequest. 

Red-figured pottery does not seem to have been produced in the province of Campania until some time after it had become well established in Lucania and Apulia, and the earliest extant examples can hardly be dated much before the beginning of the second quarter of the 4th century. There were three principal schools of Campanian:15 See LCS, Parts 2 (Cassandra Painter and followers), 3 (AV Group), and 4 (Cumae). one was certainly based at Cumae and flourished in the second half of that century, but it is not yet represented in the Gallery’s collection. Of the remaining two, one is often referred to as the AV Group, from an association of some of its typical vases with the town of Avella, and is built up around two of its more significant artists, the Whiteface and the Libation Painters, the latter of whom is represented by two pieces in our collection – the phlyax krater no. D 14/1973 and the statue hydria no. D 119/1969 (Greek Vases In the N.G.V., pl. 14); the other develops from the workshop of the Cassandra and Parrish Painters, two important artists of the mid-4th century, who lead on to the school of the Caivano and Errera Painters, to culminate in the later years of the century in the work of the Ixion Painter. 

The Boating Painter, named after our newly-acquired vase, is one of the last painters who may be placed in the circle of the Cassandra Painter, and his style has moved a long way from that of the earlier artists of this school, although their influence is still to be seen in the drawing of the heads and the faces, with their sharp features, as well as in the decorative pattern-work, especially the florals which serve as a frame to the pictures. 

This krater has an interesting history. Before it came to the Gallery through the Felton Bequest it was in the collection of Lord St Oswald at Nostell Priory, near Wakefield in Yorkshire, the greater part of which was acquired by an ancestor of the former owner in a single purchase in 1818 from the Abbé H. Campbell, then living in Naples. The collection remained in Nostell Priory until 1975, when it was sold by auction at Christie’s in London, our Late Attic bell-krater (D 1/1976; Greek Vases in the N.G.V., pl. 7) coming from the same sale. The boating krater is listed as no. 29 in the original catalogue of the Campbell vases purchased in 1818, all of which were shipped to England in February of the following year on the Azores, ‘which vessel sailed from Naples with a fair wind on the 9th of this month’. Despite the fairly abundant documentation of the collection, it is not possible to determine the precise find-spot of the vase, although we may deduce that, with the rest, it came from the Neapolitan area. 

The remarkable interest of the subject on the obverse (fig. 6), which is unique in South Italian vase-painting, is recognised in the original list by the addition of the comment ‘questo vaso si saluta per il soggetto’. It depicts what might be described as a water-picnic – in the centre, over a sea represented by three leaping dolphins amid white-crested waves, a small boat is being rowed by an elderly satyr, whose body is covered with white hair, although his beard is still black. Facing him, seated in the stern of the boat, is a woman wearing a tunic with a cloak across her legs. On her head is a radiate diadem, there are bracelets on both arms and she holds a phiale in her extended right hand. Beside her is the steering oar, although she does not appear to be holding it; the boat may be momentarily at rest. To the right in the prow, which is decorated with an apotropaic eye, stands a naked satyr-boy who rests both hands upon the rower’s shoulders; behind him is a wine-amphora painted in added white. Between the woman and the rower is a stand for the game of kottabos,16 On the game of kottabos see, in particular, B. A. Sparkes, ‘Kottabos – an Athenian after-dinner game’, Archaeology, 13, 1960, pp. 202 ff. a popular pastime at drinking-parties, in which the players had to sling the dregs of wine from their cups at a target which often, as here, consisted of a flat metal disk finely balanced on top of a slender upright rod, in the middle of which was fixed a slightly convex disk. The object was to score a direct hit on the target disk in such a way as to dislodge it so that it fell down to strike the disk below with a clear, ringing sound, and many South Italian vases illustrate both the preparation for and the progress of the game. 

                                                                                                                                                           The scene as a whole has a peculiar charm and an appealing novelty. Maenads and satyrs, as the followers of Dionysos, god of wine and of the drama, naturally play a prominent part in the representations on figured Greek vases, but we normally see them cavorting around in Dionysiac revels in the full flush of ecstasy or else in scenes associated either with the theatre or, more commonly, with the making, serving and drinking of wine, the gift of Dionysos to mankind. Here, on the other hand, we are given a brief glimpse of another aspect of their life, quieter and more domestic; though they have not forgotten their devotion to the god, as the wine-amphora and the kottabos-stand testify, they are, as it were, taking time off from their more demanding duties for a family outing in the boat somewhere round the bay of Naples. 

On the reverse (fig. 7) are represented the two draped youths who appear so frequently on South Italian kraters. Both wear white head-bands and are enveloped in himatia with plain black borders. The draping of the youth to the left is very typical of the painter’s work; the left arm is bent at the elbow and the cloak falls down from the shoulder in such a way that the black border assumes the form of an elongated L, which almost meets the border across the top to give the effect of two sides of an open triangle. This seems to be a device greatly favoured by the Boating Painter, since it is repeated on all five of the other vases which may be attributed to his hand,17 They are listed in LCS, p. 246, nos. 140–43, and Suppl. I, p. 43, no. 141a. although on most of them, of which Vienna 554 (fig. 8) may be taken as typical, the right arm of the youth to left is extended to hold a stick, and in consequence the open triangle becomes much narrower. Also typical is the wavy squiggle with which the borders in the bottom corners of the himatia terminate. 

The vase is probably to be dated around the middle or very early in the second half of the 4th century B.C., since it is close in style to the work of some of the other followers of the Cassandra and Parrish Painters, for example, the vases in the Sharp-Nose Group or by the Louvre Sacrifice Painter, on which a similar treatment of patterns and faces may be observed.18 For the floral patterns cf. LCS, pl. 95, 5–7; tor the faces, pl. 95, 4 and 8, pl. 103, 4–5. 

A.D. Trendall, La Trobe University (in 1978).

 

Notes

1          On plastic vases in general see Μ. I. Maximova, Les vases plastiques dan l’antiquité, Paris, 1927; R. A. Higgins, Catalogue of the Terracottas in the British Museum, vol. II, London, 1959; on Rhodian in particular, Jean Ducat, Les vases plastiques rhodiens, Paris, 1966, where an annotated bibliography will be found on pp. 4–6; and on the chronology, Otfried von Vacano in Bonner Jahrbücher, 176, 1976, pp. 33–43. 

2          Higgins, op. cit., pp. 9–10. 

3          Accession no. D 314/1977. Ht. 6.8 cm. Forman coll., Sale Cat., Sotheby, 19 June 1899. no. 271; Torr coll., Sale Cat, Sotheby, 2 July 1929, pl. 8, no. 8, and 10 April 1934, no. 127, 1; Hearst coll., Sale Cat., Parke-Bernet, New York, 5 April 1963, no. 1; Classical Art: André Emmerich Gallery, N.Y., 1977, p. 16, no. 16 (ill ); Ducat, op. cit., p. 12, no. Ε 18. 

4          On such helmets see, in particular, Kukahn, Der griechische Helm, Marburg, 1936; R. Μ Cook in Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, British Museum 8. text, pp. 15–16; Anthony Snodgrass, Early Greek Armour, Edinburgh, 1964, p. 31; Κ. H. Edrich, Der ionische Helm, 1969. 

5          B.M. A 1118; Higgins, op. cit. no. 1620, pl. 10, 1–3 – a full discussion, with extensive bibliography, is given on pp. 18–20; Ducat, p. 11, no. Ε 1. 

6          Oxford 1879.137–8; 1921.1354 = CVA 2, II D, pl. 8, 1–3, text, pp. 85–6; Ducat, nos. Ε 2–4. A head in New York (Metr. Mus. 41. 162.38 = (CVA, Gallatin coll., pl. 33, 5 = Ducat, no. Ε 7.) is also very close. 

7          Accession no. D 150/1977. Ht 42.5 cm. Christie’s Sale Cat., 16 March 1977, no. 211, pl. 23; Some Recent Acquisitions 1976/77, N.G.V., Melbourne, 1977, no. 93 (ill ); Trendall, Greek Vases in the N.G.V , Melbourne, 1978, pp. 14–15, pl. 9. For the Amykos Painter see Trendall, The Red-figured Vases of Lucania, Campania and Sicily, Oxford, 1967 (= LCS), pp. 29 ff.; a list of his other column-kraters will be found on pp. 40–41, nos. 176–83, and p. 44, no. 214, with addenda in Suppl. I (Bulletin Inst. Class. Studies, London, Suppl. no. 26, 1970), p. 7, no. 177a, and in Rocha Pereira, Humanitas, 27–8, 1976, pp. 229–30, pls. 1–4, where a newly rediscovered vase in Lisbon is published. 

8          Trendall, Greek Vases in the N.G.V., p. 16, pl. 11 a-b. 

9          See D. Adamesteanu, Metaponto, Naples, 1973, pp. 27–29; Trendall apud M. W. Frederiksen, Arch Reports, no. 23, 1976–7, p. 54. The finds are soon to be published by Dr F. D’Andria, who gives a preliminary account of them in Magna Graecia, 12, 1977 (March–April), pp. 1 ff. 

10        On this shape see Richter and Milne, Shapes and Names of Athenian Vases, New York, 1935, p. 7; J. V. Noble, Techniques of Attic Painted Pottery, New York, 1965, p. 18; and for its early history T. Bakir, Der Kolonettenkrater in Korinth and Attika zwischen 625 und 550 v. Chr., Würzburg, 1974. 

11       See Trendall, Gli Indigeni nella pittura italiota, Taranto, 1971, and id. and Cambitoglou, The Red- figured Vases of Apulia, Oxford, 1978, p. 15. 

12        LCS, p. 36, no. 136, pl. 12, 1–2. 

13        Cf. column-kraters by the Painter of the Louvre Centauromachy (e.g. Louvre G 405 = CVA 4, Ill I d, pl. 29, 4, 6 and 10), the Eupolis Painter (e.g. Vienna 725 = CVA, pl. 94, 4–5), or the Painter of Munich 2335 (e.g. Vienna 681 and 823 = CVA, pl. 98). 

14        Accession no. D 27/1979. Ht. 31.2 cm. Trendall, LCS, p. 246, no. 1; Corbett in Christie’s Sale Cat., 30 April 1975, p. 31, no. 42, pl. 16, 1–2. 

15        See LCS, Parts 2 (Cassandra Painter and followers), 3 (AV Group), and 4 (Cumae). 

16        On the game of kottabos see, in particular, B. A. Sparkes, ‘Kottabos – an Athenian after-dinner game’, Archaeology, 13, 1960, pp. 202 ff. 

17        They are listed in LCS, p. 246, nos. 140–43, and Suppl. I, p. 43, no. 141a. 

18         For the floral patterns cf. LCS, pl. 95, 5–7; tor the faces, pl. 95, 4 and 8, pl. 103, 4–5.