An Italiote Krater with Apollo and Artemis(attributed to the painter of Creusa)
Culture: , , , ,
Period: 400-375 B.C.
Dimensions: H: 31.7 cm
Major A.R.G. Strutt, IV Lord Belper (1912-1999), Kingston Hall, Nottingham; Christie’s, London, July 6, 1976, Lot 46; Sotheby’s, New York, May 20,
1982, Lot 175; ex-Sigmund Harrison Collection, Philadelphia; Sotheby’s, New York, June 23, 1989, Lot 195; ex-A.C. Miller Collection.
Complete vessel, in the form of large fragments reassembled with great care; no gaps in the scenes; minor chips on the black glaze (some repainted,c.f. foot).
Bell krater with a flared mouth, a jutting lip, small handles marking an inward projection and a large disk-shaped foot. Kraters were large open bowls that were used to mix wine and water (ancient Greeks and Romans did not drink their wine undiluted because of the high alcohol content). The beverage was then poured into drinking cups with a small ladle or an oenochoe (small vase). Kraters were therefore closely linked to symposia (banquets or drinking parties). These men-only get-togethers were often enlivened by the presence of musicians and dancers. The vessel is painted in the red-figure technique, which was invented in Athens in the late 6th century B.C. The black pigment was applied to form the background and the figures were left reserved, with the red color of the clay appearing between the black-glazed outlines of the figures. This krater is entirely black-glazed, except for the rim of the foot, the underside of the handles, the figural scene and the decorative elements. The inside of the vessel is also blackglazed, aside from two lines that mark the upper and lower mouth. A frieze of laurel leaves encircles the outer surface at mouth level, just beneath the lip, underlined by a thin claycolored band.
The two figural scenes unfold on a band of alternating meander and cross patterns. On the obverse face, the main scene features three figures. In the center, a young man is seated on a klismos (backrest chair), his feet placed on a footrest. He is bare-chested, revealing an athletic musculature. A long himation (cloak) is gathered around his waist and covers his legs. He wears lace-up boots. His long hair is adorned with a laurel wreath. He plays the lyre, a musical instrument whose strings were plucked or strummed to create a melody that accompanied a song. The plectrum (a small thin piece of bone or shell), used to strum the lyre, is visible in his right hand. A young woman stands in front of him and gives him a crown with her right hand. She is dressed in a short chiton (linen tunic) and wears lace-up boots topped with animal skin. She wears a diadem. Her wrists are adorned with bracelets. In her left hand, a bow is visible.
Another young woman stands behind the man. She wears a long chiton and a himation that covers the back of her head. With her right hand, she also offers a crown. She holds a phiale (shallow drinking vessel) in her left hand. A small band is suspended in the background of the scene. On the reverse face of the vessel, three young men are depicted standing. All three are dressed in the same way, each entirely wrapped in a long himation, from neck to foot, with only their shoes visible. A thin black band marks the edge of each man’s cloak and structures the garment over the tight-clad shoulders. Horizontal and vertical folds bring volume and movement to the figures.
The man on the left, who raises one of his hands, faces the other two looking at him. From their more or less open mouths, they seem to talk together.
The two principal figures on the obverse side can be easily identified as the god Apollo and his twin sister Artemis. An archetypal Greek deity, Apollo was the god of music, especially associated with the lyre. Artemis was the goddess of wildlife, the incarnation of the huntress who brought swift death by means of her bow and arrows. The second female figure, who differs by wearing her veil on the back of the head, would be Artemis, and Apollo’s mother, Leto. She might also be a priestess, the Pythia maybe, commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi. The various crowns, the small band and the phiale indicate a ritual context, during which laurel wreaths (a symbol of the god Apollo) were off ered to the deity as a sign of adoration.The anonymous scene on the reverse face is admittedly simpler, without being devoid, however, of delicately rendered details, especially in the beautiful draped garments. Quiet talking scenes like these are common in the decoration on the secondary side of kraters. The color of the clay and the overall treatment of the vessel enable us to regard it as a production of Magna Graecia, of Lucania specifically, since it can be attributed to the Painter of Creusa, active between 400 and 375 B.C.
TRENDALL A.D., The Red-Figured Vases of Lucania, Campania and Sicily, Third Supplement, Oxford, 1983, p. 48, no. C 53.
Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Vol. II, Zurich-Munich, 1984, s.v. Apollon, II. Apollon mit Göttern, Heroen und Menschen in
Erscheinung tretend: A. Die apollinische Trias. b. Apollon nimmt an einer rituellen Handlung teil: pp. 263-265, nos. 644-657; B. Apollon mit Artemis
oder mit Leto: pp. 265-268, nos. 667-688.
Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Vol. II, Zurich-Munich, 1984, s.v. Artemis, VII. Scènes à caractère rituel, I. Scènes de libation,
I.2. Artémis et Apollon, I.3. Artemis, Apollon et Léto: pp. 695-698, nos. 995-1009.
Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Vol. VI, Zurich-Munich, 1992, s.v. Léto: F. Triade délienne. G. Léto et Apollon. H. Léto et
Artemis: see Apollon et Artemis; Comments, pp. 263-264.
On Italiote ceramics in general and on the Painter of Creusa, see:
DENOYELLE M. and IOZZO M., La céramique grecque d’Italie méridionale et de Sicile: Productions coloniales et apparentées du VIIIe au IIIe siècle
av. J.-C., Paris, 2009, pp. 100, 111-112, 114, 115, 129.
TRENDALL A.D., The Red-Figured Vases of Lucania, Campania and Sicily, Oxford, 1967.
TRENDALL A.D., Red-Figure Vases of South Italy and Sicily: A Handbook, London, 1989, pp. 17, 55-58, 60, ill. 65-73.