Greek Art

ATTIC RED-FIGURE BELL-CRATER

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Year: 380-360 a.C.

Dimension: Height 32,5 cm

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Description:

Attic, 4th century BC, Filottrano Painter. A red figure bell crater with bell shaped body and stepped foot with flaring rounded base, flaring rim with rolled edge and two upturned horizontal handles, the decoration enlived with added white paint, a band of meander encircling below the central scenes, a band of laurel beneath the rim. Side a) showing Gryphomachia: a battle between Arimasps and Griffin, central figure of a Gryphon painted in white, depicted with the body of a lion, the head of a bird and with wide plumed wings, rushing on an Arimasps who retreats to right with the right arm upraised holding a spear and a shield, on the left another Arimasps riding a horse, the two Arimasps wearing typical “oriental” dress with a short chiton, spotted leggings and a Phrygian cap. Side b) showing three himathion-clad male standing figures, one of them holding out a ball, another holding a strigil.
Red-figure vase painting is one of the most important styles of figural Greek vase painting. It developed in Athens around 530 BC and remained in use until the late 3rd century BC. It replaced the previously dominant style of Black-figure vase painting within a few decades. Its modern name is based on the figural depictions in red colour on a black background, in contrast to the preceding black-figure style with black figures on a red background. Attic red-figure vases were exported throughout Greece and beyond. For a long time, they dominated the market for fine ceramics. Starting with the studies by John D. Beazley and Arthur Trendall, the study of this style of art has made enormous progress. Some vases can be ascribed to individual artists or schools, as this piece can be attributed to a painter conventionally named the “Group G”.
In Greek mythology, griffins living far to the north and guarded large deposit of gold. They were in constant conflict with the Arimasps. Arimasps, according to Herodotus, were peoples of the Scythian steppes, said to be a tribe of one eyed people, who regularly tried to steal the gold. Although literary sources describe the Arimasps as one-eyed, visual artist did not follow this convention, instead merely depicting them in barbarian costume with the same “oriental” conventions of dress as Persians and Amazons, at complete odds with the heroic nudity or armour of Greek warriors. These vas were made for the Greek colony of Panticapaeum, on the Kerch Strait in the Ukraine. Cod. 182/2013

C.F.R. Beazley 1963, p. 1455, 2; 1694 e Spina : Storia di una città tra Greci ed Etruschi, Ferrara Arte, 1993, tav. 120, pag.271

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