The Painter’s Eye: The Art of Greek Ceramics 2006

October 21 - November 11 2006

New York

Phoenix Ancient Art, one of the world’s leading dealers in rare, high quality antiquities from Western civilizations, today announced that its exhibition, “The Painter’s Eye: The Art of Greek Ceramics. Greek Vases from a Swiss Private Collection and Other European Private Collections,” will be unveiled at its New York City gallery on October 20, 2006, opening to the public on October 21st and remaining on view until November 11th, 2006.


This will be the first time that this particular collection of vases will be going on public display, some of which have not been seen in over 30 years.


“We pursued this collection for five years, knowing that the opportunity to obtain such a rare collection of Greek vases, painstakingly selected for their beauty, quality and integrity, would probably never present itself again,” says Ali Aboutaam, president of Phoenix Ancient Art.


The exhibit will be accompanied by the publication of a corresponding scholarly catalogue featuring the 26 pieces, which range in date from the mid 6th century B.C. to the late 4th century B.C.  A number of these wonderful vases have previously been unpublished, highlighting the timeliness of Phoenix’s decision to bring such treasures of antiquity into the light.


“When most people think of ancient art, one of the first images that come to mind, perhaps now more than ever, is a Greek vase,” said Hicham Aboutaam, co-founder of Phoenix Ancient Art.  “The power of these timeless works to evoke the glories of Western art in the public consciousness is extraordinary.”


“Even in antiquity, Greek vases were treasured as trophies and heirlooms.  Voracious foreign demand also led to their travel and export throughout the Mediterranean.  The most skilled potters and vase painters would develop their own followings in much the same way that paintings collectors today look for Picassos or Rembrandts.”


While no actual Picassos are on display, Phoenix’s show certainly features some of his ancient equivalents.  Painters such as Macron, Dikaios and Brygos, among the masters of their craft, present compositions executed with a grace and beauty that illustrate an incredibly high level of draftsmanship and aesthetic sensitivity.


It is easy to see how these vessels have attracted devoted collectors for over 2,000 years, from Roman conquerors to Enlightenment era intellectuals to modern day diplomats.  In this case, the names of the collectors can be of just as much importance as the names of the artists.  Consider two beautiful and unusually large amphorae, or wine vessels, with lively depictions of satyrs and maenads in the midst of their drunken revels.  They once belonged in the private collection of Lucien Bonaparte, the Prince of Canino and brother of Emperor Napoleon I.


One of the highlights of the show displays a brilliance of craftsmanship and design that is matched by an equally fascinating history: a 6th century B.C. amphora by the Antimenes Painter depicting Heracles battling the Nemean Lion – one of his finest works – hails from the early 19th century collection at Capesthorne Hall, one of Britain’s great country estates.  Home to the Bromley-Davenport family, this marvelous vase belonged to Sir Edward Davies Davenport (1778 – 1847), a politician and intellectual who fell in love with the Classical world and amassed his collection during his European Grand Tour.


A number of the vessels are also decorated with genre scenes of daily life, which are sure to be of interest to both casual students of antiquity as well as to seasoned collectors and academics.  Themes such as a music lesson, the cleaning of a fish for a meal and athletes exercising are treated with equal care, the lively, colorful images giving us a tantalizing glimpse into the ancient world.