Online Review: Book

Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. Greece 13. Thessaloniki: Aristotle University, Cast Museum

Mary B. Moore

118.1

Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. Greece 13. Thessaloniki: Aristotle University, Cast Museum, by Vassiliki Saripanidi. Pp. 89, b&w pls. 51, figs. 27. Research Centre for Antiquity of the Academy of Athens, Athens 2012. €60. ISBN 978-860-404-244-9 (cloth).

This interesting collection of Greek vases was established for educational purposes between 1928 and 1930 by Konstantinos Rhomaios, professor of classical archaeology at Aristotle University. Various scholars contributed to the attributions of these vases, and their work is acknowledged in the catalogue entries. Saripanidi particularly singles out Chaido Koukouli-Chrysanthaki, Honorary Ephor of Antiquities, who was the first to study the collection systematically and whose notes are the source of many attributions. S. Stournaras took the photographs and A. Thanos prepared the drawings of dipinti and graffiti.

The presentation of the material is chronological, covering the Bronze Age through the Classical period, and the organization of each entry follows the format established for the CVA series: accession number, measurements and condition, description of the shape and decoration, then date, followed by comparanda. The last are especially comprehensive.

A deep, rounded cup with spirals, a stirrup jar, a piriform jar, an elegant cup decorated with whorl-shells, and an askos make up the Minoan and Mycenaean material (pls. 1–3).

The Attic material begins with Protogeometric and Geometric vases (pls. 4–10). There is a fine variety of shapes, including a very good late Protogeometric hydria, a gift from the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. The Late Geometric I and II vessels are rather small: tankards, including one decorated on the neck with swastikas and a quatrofoil (pl. 6), a skyphos and a high-rimmed bowl (pl. 8), a pyxis with lid, and a neck amphora with lozenges below the handles (pl. 10.1–2).

The Protocorinthian and Corinthian material is typical of this fabric and its shapes (pls. 11–22): alabastra, a pointed aryballos, as well as several globular examples. Catalogue number 47 (pl. 13.1–3) is a fine flat-bottomed Middle Cycladic aryballos decorated with a large lotus-palmette flanked by seated sphinxes. The Middle–Late Cycladic aryballoi on plate 14 illustrate the variety of ornament on these vessels. An oddity is catalogue number 35 (pl. 15.6–8), a Late Cycladic skyphos that was dipped into the glaze twice, once by each handle, resulting in a peculiar appearance (36–7). The Corinthian material concludes with two Early–Middle Cycladic broad-bottomed oinochoai (pls. 18, 19), a bottle decorated with a lion (pl. 20.1–3), a convex pyxis with an animal frieze (pl. 20.4–7), a tripod pyxis with lid, an exaleiptron with a reflex handle, and a mid fifth-century neck amphora (pls. 21, 22).

There is a small amount of Boeotian material, mainly decorated with ornamental patterns (pls. 23–6). In black-glaze, there are also three elegant kantharoi and a Kabiric kantharos (pl. 26).

The Attic black-figure vases are mainly modest vessels attributed mostly to minor painters (pls. 27–33): for example, Leafless Group, Haimon Group, CHC Group, and Lancut Group, painters busily mass-producing vases during the Persian War years. Subjects include dancers, chariots wheeling around, and a maenad dancing before a seated figure (in silhouette). The Attic black-figure concludes with lekythoi. Catalogue number 83 (pl. 32), by the Athena Painter, is the best example of the shape and depicts a low column surmounted by a cock, flanked by two men. The rest are small vases (pl. 33), although catalogue number 84 is notable, depicting Athena attacking Enkelados with her aegis held out over her left arm. The final three lekythoi are patterned.

The Attic red-figure and white-ground material is mostly fifth century. Catalogue number 130 (pl. 34), a pelike by the Agrigento Painter, depicts Dionysos and a satyr at a libation on one side, a satyr pursuing a maenad on the other. Catalogue number 133 (pl. 35.3–4), by the untalented Amazon Painter, depicts the customary large head of an Amazon and the protomes of a horse and of a griffin. The most interesting vase in this collection is catalogue number 233 (pls. 36–8), a bell krater by a painter from the Group of Polygnotos: Herakles provokes the Nemean lion to come out of his cave, Iolaos stands behind him, Athena is standing?(a section is missing), and another woman, perhaps Nemea, is seated on a rock. Saripanidi correctly links the iconography with that of the Kerberos labor. Catalogue number 131 (pl. 39.1–3), a fragment of a bell krater by the Painter of Munich 2335, shows Dionysos with a thyrsos and a maenad with a torch, perhaps an Eleusinian scene. A pelike (cat. no. 126bis, pl. 39.4–5) depicts an energetic satyr. A very interesting scene on a fourth-century skyphos shows Marsyas bound to the rock awaiting his punishment (cat. no. 135, pls. 41, 42). There are three quite good cylinder lekythoi, one with Nike flying toward an altar (cat. no. 123, pl. 45.3–4). White-ground vases conclude the Attic figural material (pls. 46–8): five white-ground lekythoi and one alabastron. The remainder of the fascicle contains the Attic vases decorated in black glaze: a hydria, cups (including the rare Vicup), a lekanis, a stemless bowl with cover, and a pyxis with lid. There are three indices: “Index of Museum Inventory Numbers,” “Index of Artists, Stylistic Groups and Classes,” and “Index of Principal Subjects.”

Figures 1–27 offer profile and figural drawings at a scale of 1:2, the white-ground lekythoi drawings are 1:1. The black-and-white plates are of excellent quality, and the layout is generous. One wishes, however, that the white-ground lekythoi were illustrated in color because they are quite difficult to see.

Unfortunately, nearly all of the provenance information for these vases was lost because of storage conditions between the end of World War II and the 1970s, but this does not detract from their value as objects. For an archaeologist, it can be very easy to discount unprovenanced material and for an art historian to ignore the work by the less-talented painters, such as the Haimonians, the CHC Group, or the Amazon Painter, but to do so is a great mistake. They are part of the Greek legacy, and they often contribute valuable iconographical information.

Mary B. Moore
444 East 75th Street
New York, New York 10021
mbmoore@mindspring.com

Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. Greece 13. Thessaloniki: Aristotle University, Cast Museum, by Vassiliki Saripanidi
Reviewed by Mary B. Moore
American Journal of Archaeology Volume 118 Number 1 (January 2014), published online at www.ajaonline.org/online-review-book/1729
DOI: 10.3764/ajaonline1181.Moore

Add new comment

Plain text

  • Use [fn]...[/fn] (or <fn>...</fn>) to insert automatically numbered footnotes.
  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Typographic refinements will be added.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Click "Save" to submit your comment. Please allow some time for your post to be moderated.