Black-figure Kantharos

Kantharos depicting athletes running

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Shape: The handles usually curve above the level of the lip and sometimes with an inward curl towards the lip. The lip and the bowl form a continuous curve, and the bowl is usually set off from the tall-stemmed foot. Of the four major types, type A is has been illustrated (see Illustration).

History: The shape is not common in Athenian black-figure, and is more often seen held by Dionysos in representations on vases. There are several variations within this type of cup. The immediate origin of the kantharos is not clear, but it has a long and early history in Boeotia. In its early development it is closely related to the cup. The Protogeometric kantharos has low handles and a conical foot. During the Geometric period this foot is rejected in favor of a tall stem. At this time the handles rise above the lip. The characteristic shape first appears in Etruscan bucchero in the late seventh or early sixth century B.C. It is then adopted by Attic and Boeotian potters and undergoes refinements in their hands. Its shape continues to be popular down to the period of the later Apulian wares, as well as the black-painted wares of the fourth and third century.

Term: The word kantharos means "dung beetle" it also was the name used to describe a cup of this shape in ancient times: Athenaios, 11.473d lists the kantharos among the drinking cups and describes it as resting on "a thin-stemmed, broad-based foot."

Kantharos depicting athletes running

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Famous black figure artists

Exekias was one of the most famous Athenian black figure vase painters.

More about the painter Exekias

A red figure vase showing a woman making a large pot, in a pottery workshop (Caputi hydria, by the Leningrad painter. Athens, about 490-470 BC)

Amasis was also an important Athenian painter at this time. Most of the time, the potter who made the vase and the painter who painted it were different people. Both men and women made vases.

Some of the potters and painters may have been enslaved, but others (like this woman) were not. Some of the vase painters knew how to write and signed their names (and sometimes the name of the potter) on their work.


The foundation for pottery painting is the image carrier, in other words the vase onto which an image is painted. Popular shapes alternated with passing fashions. Whereas many recurred after intervals, others were replaced over time. But they all had a common method of manufacture: after the vase was made, it was first dried before being painted. The workshops were under the control of the potters, who as owners of businesses had an elevated social position [ citation needed ] .

The extent to which potters and painters were identical is uncertain. It is likely that many master potters themselves made their main contribution in the production process as vase painters, while employing additional painters. It is, however, not easy to reconstruct links between potters and painters. In many cases, such as Tleson and the Tleson Painter, Amasis and the Amasis Painter or even Nikosthenes and Painter N, it is impossible to make unambiguous attributions, although in much of the scientific literature these painters and potters are assumed to be the same person [ citation needed ] . But such attributions can only be made with confidence if the signatures of potter and painter are at hand.

The painters, who were either slaves or craftsmen paid as pottery painters, worked on unfired, leather-dry vases. In the case of black-figure production the subject was painted on the vase with a clay slurry (a slip, in older literature also designated as varnish) which turned black and glossy after firing. This was not "paint" in the usual sense, since this surface slip was made from the same clay material as the vase itself, only differing in the size of the component particles, achieved during refining the clay before potting began. The area for the figures was first painted with a brush-like implement. The internal outlines and structural details were incised into the slip so that the underlying clay could be seen through the scratches. Two other earth-based pigments giving red and white were used to add details such as ornaments, clothing or parts of clothing, hair, animal manes, parts of weapons and other equipment. White was also frequently used to represent women's skin.

The success of all this effort could only be judged after a complicated, three-phase firing process which generated the red color of the body clay and the black of the applied slip. Specifically, the vessel was fired in a kiln at a temperature of about 800 °C, with the resultant oxidization turning the vase a reddish-orange color. The temperature was then raised to about 950 °C with the kiln's vents closed and green wood added to remove the oxygen. The vessel then turned an overall black. The final stage required the vents to be re-opened to allow oxygen into the kiln, which was allowed to cool down. The vessel then returned to its reddish-orange colour due to renewed oxidization, while the now-sintered painted layer remained the glossy black color which had been created in the second stage.

Although scoring is one of the main stylistic indicators, some pieces do without. For these, the form is technically similar to the orientalizing style, but the image repertoire no longer reflects orientalizing practice. [1]

The evolution of black-figure pottery painting is traditionally described in terms of various regional styles and schools. Using Corinth as the hub, there were basic differences in the productions of the individual regions, even if they did influence each other. Especially in Attica, although not exclusively there, the best and most influential artists of their time characterized classical Greek pottery painting. The further development and quality of the vessels as image carrier are the subjects of this section.

Corinth Edit

The black-figure technique was developed around 700 BC in Corinth [2] and used for the first time in the early 7th century BC by Proto-Corinthian pottery painters, who were still painting in the orientalizing style. The new technique was reminiscent of engraved metal pieces, with the more costly metal tableware being replaced by pottery vases with figures painted on them. A characteristic black-figure style developed before the end of the century. Most orientalizing elements had been given up and there were no ornaments except for dabbed rosettes (the rosettes being formed by an arrangement of small individual dots)

The clay used in Corinth was soft, with a yellow, occasionally green tint. Faulty firing was a matter of course, occurring whenever the complicated firing procedure did not function as desired. The result was often unwanted coloring of the entire vase, or parts of it. After firing, the glossy slip applied to the vase turned dull black. The supplemental red and white colors first appeared in Corinth and then became very common. The painted vessels are usually of small format, seldom higher than 30 cm. Oil flasks (alabastra, aryballos), pyxides, kraters, oenochoes and cups were the most common vessels painted. Sculptured vases were also widespread. In contrast to Attic vases, inscriptions are rare, and painters’ signatures even more so. Most of the surviving vessels produced in Corinth have been found in Etruria, lower Italy and Sicily. In the 7th and first half of the 6th centuries BC, Corinthian vase painting dominated the Mediterranean market for ceramics. It is difficult to construct a stylistic sequence for Corinthian vase painting. In contrast to Attic painting, for example, the proportions of the pottery foundation did not evolve much. It is also often difficult to date Corinthian vases one frequently has to rely on secondary dates, such as the founding of Greek colonies in Italy. Based on such information an approximate chronology can be drawn up using stylistic comparisons, but it seldom has anywhere near the precision of the dating of Attic vases.

Mythological scenes are frequently depicted, especially Heracles and figures relating to the Trojan War. But the imagery on Corinthian vases does not have as wide a thematic range as do later works by Attic painters. Gods are seldom depicted, Dionysus never. But the Theban Cycle was more popular in Corinth than later in Athens. Primarily fights, horsemen and banquets were the most common scenes of daily life, the latter appearing for the first time during the early Corinthian period. Sport scenes are rare. Scenes with fat-bellied dancers are unique and their meaning is disputed up to the present time. These are drinkers whose bellies and buttocks are padded with pillows and they may represent an early form of Greek comedy. [3]

Transitional style Edit

The transitional style (640-625 BC) linked the orientalizing (Proto-Corinthian) with the black-figure style. The old animal frieze style of the Proto-Corinthian period had run dry, as did the interest of vase painters in mythological scenes. During this period animal and hybrid creatures were dominant. The index form of the time was the spherical aryballos, which was produced in large numbers and decorated with animal friezes or scenes of daily life. The image quality is inferior compared with the orientalizing period. The most distinguished artists of the time were the Shambling Bull Painter, whose most famous work is an aryballos with a hunting scene, the Painter of Palermo 489, and his disciple, the Columbus Painter. The latter's personal style can be most easily recognized in his images of powerful lions. Beside the aryballos, the kotyle and the alabastron are the most important vase shapes. The edges of kotyles were ornamented, and the other decorations consisted of animals and rays. The two vertical vase surfaces frequently have mythological scenes. The alabastrons were usually painted with single figures.

Early- and Middle Corinthian Edit

The Duel Painter was the most important early Corinthian painter (625-600 BC) [4] who depicted fighting scenes on aryballos. Starting in the Middle Corinthian period (600-575 BC), opaque colors were used more and more frequently to emphasize details. Figures were additionally painted using a series of white dots. The aryballos became larger and were given a flat base.

The Pholoe Painter is well known, his most famous work being a skyphos with a picture of Heracles. The Dodwell Painter continued to paint animal friezes, although other painters had already given up this tradition. [5] His creative period extended into Late-Corinthian times [ clarification needed ] and his influence cannot be overestimated on vase painting of that time. Likewise of exceptional reputation were the master of the Gorgoneion Group and the Cavalcade Painter, given this designation because of his preference for depicting horsemen on cup interiors he was active around 580 BC. [6] Two of his masterpieces [7] are a cup [8] showing the suicide of Ajax, and a column krater showing a bridal couple in a chariot. All figures shown on the bowl are labeled.

The first artist known by name is the polychrome vase painter Timonidas [de] , who signed [9] a flask [10] and a pinax. [11] A second artist's name of Milonidas also appears on a pinax.

The Corinthian olpe wine jug was replaced by an Attic version of the oinochoe with a cloverleaf lip. In Middle Corinthian time, depictions of people again became more common. The Eurytios Krater dated around 600 BC is considered to be of particularly high quality it shows a symposium in the main frieze with Heracles, Eurytios, and other mythical figures.

Late Corinthian Edit

In Late Corinthian times (sometimes designated Late Corinthian I, 575–550 BC) Corinthian vases had a red coating to enhance the contrast between the large white areas and the rather pale color of the clay vessel. This put the Corinthian craftsmen in competition with Attic pottery painters, who had in the meantime taken over a leading role in the pottery trade. Attic vase forms were also increasingly copied. Oinochoes, whose form had remained basically unchanged up until that time, began to resemble Attic forms lekythos also started to be increasingly produced. The column krater, a Corinthian invention which was for that reason called a korinthios in the rest of Greece, was modified. Shortening the volutes above the handles gave rise to the Chalcidic krater. The main image field it was decorated with various representations of daily life or mythological scenes, the secondary field contained an animal frieze. The back often showed two large animals.

Cups had become deeper already in Mid-Corinthian times and this trend continued. They became just as popular as kotyles. Many of them have mythological scenes on the outside and a gorgon grimace on the inside. This type of painting was also adopted by Attic painters. On their part, Corinthian painters took over framed image fields from Athens. Animal friezes became less important. During this time the third Corinthian painter with a known name, Chares, was active. [12] The Tydeus Painter should also be mentioned, who around 560 BC liked to paint neck amphoras with a red background. [13] Incised rosettes continued to be put on vases they are lacking on only a few kraters and cups. The most outstanding piece of art in this period is the Amphiaraos Krater, a column krater created around 560 BC as the major work of the Amphiaraos Painter.. It shows several events from the life of the hero Amphiaraos.

Around 550 BC the production of figured vases came to an end. The following Late Corinthian Style II is characterized by vases only with ornaments, usually painted with a silhouette technique. It was succeeded by the red-figure style, which however did not attain a particularly high quality in Corinth.

Attica Edit

With over 20,000 extant pieces, Attic black-figure vases comprise the largest and at the same time most significant vase collection, second only to Attic red-figure vases. [14] Attic potters benefitted from the excellent, iron-rich clay found in Attica. High quality Attic black-figure vases have a uniform, glossy, pitch-black coating and the color-intensive terra cotta clay foundation has been meticulously smoothened. Women's skin is always indicated with a white opaque color, which is also frequently used for details such as individual horses, clothing or ornaments. The most outstanding Attic artists elevated vase painting to a graphic art, but a large number of average quality and mass-market products were also produced. The outstanding significance of Attic pottery comes from their almost endless repertoire of scenes covering a wide range of themes. These provide rich testimonials especially in regard to mythology, but also to daily life. On the other hand, there are virtually no images referring to contemporary events. Such references are only occasionally evident in the form of annotations, for example when kalos inscriptions are painted on a vase. Vases were produced for the domestic market on the one hand, and were important for celebrations or in connection with ritual acts. On the other hand, they were also an important export product sold throughout the Mediterranean area. For this reason most of the surviving vases come from Etruscan necropolises. [15]

Pioneers Edit

The black-figure technique was first applied in the middle of the 7th century BC, during the period of Proto-Attic vase painting. Influenced by pottery from Corinth, which offered the highest quality at the time, Attic vase painters switched to the new technology between about 635 BC and the end of the century. At first they closely followed the methods and subjects of the Corinthian models. The Painter of Berlin A 34 at the beginning of this period is the first identified individual painter. The first artist with a unique style was the Nessos Painter. With his Nessos amphora he created the first outstanding piece in the Attic black-figure style. [16] At the same time he was an early master of the Attic animal frieze style. One of his vases was also the first known Attic vase exported to Etruria. [17] He was also responsible for the first representations of harpies and Sirens in Attic art. In contrast to the Corinthian painters he used double and even triple incised lines to better depict animal anatomy. A double-scored shoulder line became a characteristic of Attic vases. The possibilities inherent in large pieces of pottery such as belly amphoras as carriers for images were also recognized at an early date. Other important painters of this pioneer time were the Piraeus Painter, the Bellerophon Painter and the Lion Painter.

Early Attic vases Edit

The black-figure style became generally established in Athens around 600 BC. An early Athenian development was the horse-head amphora, the name coming from the depiction of horse heads in an image window. Image windows were frequently used in the subsequent period and were later adopted even in Corinth. The Cerameicus Painter and the Gorgon Painter are associated with the horse-head amphoras. The Corinthian influence was not only maintained, but even intensified. The animal frieze was recognized as generally obligatory and customarily used. This had economic as well as stylistic reasons, because Athens competed with Corinth for markets. Attic vases were sold in the Black Sea area, Libya, Syria, lower Italy and Spain, as well as within the Greek homeland.

In addition to following Corinthian models, Athens vases also showed local innovations. Thus at the beginning of the 6th century BC a "Deianaira type" of lekythos arose, with an elongated, oval form. [18] The most important painter of this early time was the Gorgon Painter (600–580 BC). He was a very productive artist who seldom made use of mythological themes or human figures, and when he did, always accompanied them with animals or animal friezes. Some of his other vases had only animal representations, as was the case with many Corinthian vases. Besides the Gorgon Painter the painters of the Komast Group (585–570 BC) should be mentioned. This group decorated types of vases which were new to Athens, namely lekanes, kotyles and kothons. The most important innovation was however the introduction of the komast cup, which along with the "prekomast cups" of the Oxford Palmette Class stands at the beginning of the development of Attic cups. Important painters in this group were the elder KX Painter and the somewhat less talented KY Painter, who introduced the column krater to Athens. [19] These vessels were designed for use at banquets and were thus decorated with relevant komos scenes, such as komast performers komos scenes.

Other significant painters of the first generation were the Panther Painter, the Anagyrus Painter, the Painter of the Dresden Lekanis and the Polos Painter. The last significant representative of the first generation of painters was Sophilos (580–570 BC), who is the first Attic vase painter known by name. In all, he signed four surviving vases, three as painter and one as potter, revealing that at this date potters were also painters of vases in the black-figure style. A fundamental separation of both crafts seems to have occurred only in the course of the development of the red-figure style, although prior specialization cannot be ruled out. Sophilos makes liberal use of annotations. He apparently specialized in large vases, since especially dinos and amphoras are known to be his work. Much more frequently than his predecessors, Sophilos shows mythological scenes like the funeral games for Patroclus. The decline of the animal frieze begins with him, and plant and other ornaments are also of lower quality since they are regarded as less important and thus receive scant attention from the painter. But in other respects Sophilos shows that he was an ambitious artist. On two dinos the marriage of Peleus and Thetis is depicted. These vases were produced at about the same time as the François vase, which depicts this subject to perfection. However, Sophilos does without any trimmings in the form of animal friezes on one of his two dinos, [20] and he does not combine different myths in scenes distributed over various vase surfaces. It is the first large Greek vase showing a single myth in several interrelated segments. A special feature of the dinos is the painter's application of the opaque white paint designating women directly on the clay foundation, and not as usual on the black gloss. The figure's interior details and contours are painted in a dull red. This particular technique is rare, only found in vases painted in Sophilos' workshop and on wooden panels painted in the Corinthian style in the 6th century BC. Sophilos also painted one of the rare chalices (a variety of goblet) and created the first surviving series of votive tablets. He himself or one of his successors also decorated the first marriage vase (known as a lebes gamikos) to be found. [21]

Pre-Classical Archaic period Edit

Starting around the second third of the 6th century BC, Attic artists became interested in mythological scenes and other representations of figures. Animal friezes became less important. Only a few painters took care with them, and they were generally moved from the center of attention to less important areas of vases. This new style is especially represented by the François vase, signed by both the potter Ergotimos and the painter Kleitias (570–560 BC). This krater is considered to be the most famous Greek painted vase. [22] It is the first known volute krater made of clay. Mythological events are depicted in several friezes, with animal friezes being shown in secondary locations. Several iconographic and technical details appear on this vase for the first time. Many are unique, such as the representation of a lowered mast of a sailing ship others became part of the standard repertoire, such as people sitting with one leg behind the other, instead of with the traditional parallel positioning of the legs. [23] Four other, smaller vases were signed by Ergotimos and Kleitias, and additional vases and fragments are attributed to them. They provide evidence for other innovations by Kleitias, like the first depiction of the birth of Athena or of the Dance on Crete.

Nearchos (565–555 BC) signed as potter and painter. He favored large figures and was the first to create images showing the harnessing of a chariot. Another innovation was to place a tongue design on a white background under the vase lip. [24] Other talented painters were the Painter of Akropolis 606 and the Ptoon Painter, whose most well-known piece is the Hearst Hydria. The Burgon Group is also significant, being the source of the first totally preserved Panathenaic amphora.

The Siana cup evolved from the komast cup around 575 BC. While the Komast Group produced shapes other than cups, some craftsmen specialized in cup production after the time of the first important exemplifier of Siana cups, the C Painter (575-555 BC). The cups have a higher rim than previously and a trumpet-shaped base on a relatively short hollow stem. For the first time in Attic vase painting the inside of the cup was decorated with framed images (tondo). There were two types of decoration. In the "double-decker" style the cup body and the lip each have separate decorations. In the "overlap" style the image extends over both body and lip. After the second quarter of the 6th century BC there was more interest in decorating especially cups with pictures of athletes. Another important Siana cup painter was the Heidelberg Painter. He, too, painted almost exclusively Siana cups. His favorite subject was the hero Heracles. The Heidelberg Painter is the first Attic painter to show him with the Erymanthian boar, with Nereus, with Busiris and in the garden of the Hesperides. The Cassandra Painter, who decorated mid-sized cups with high bases and lips, marks the end of the development of the Siana cup. He is primarily significant as the first known painter to belong to the so-called Little Masters, a large group of painters who produced the same range of vessels, known as Little-master cups. So-called Merrythought cups were produced contemporaneously with Siana cups. Their handles are in the form of a two-pronged fork and end in what looks like a button. These cups do not have a delineated rim. They also have a deeper bowl with a higher and narrower foot.

The last outstanding painter of the Pre-Classical Archaic Period was Lydos (560-540 BC), who signed two of his surviving pieces with ho Lydos (the Lydian). He or his immediate ancestors probably came from Asia Minor but he was undoubtedly trained in Athens. Over 130 surviving vases are now attributed to him. One of his pictures on a hydria is the first known Attic representation of the fight between Heracles and Geryon. Lydos was the first to show Heracles with the hide of a lion, which afterward became common in Attic art. He also depicted the battle between the gods and the giants on a dinos found on Athens’ acropolis, and Heracles with Cycnus. Lydos decorated other types of vessels besides hydriai and dinos, such as plates, cups (overlap Siena cups), column kraters and psykters, as well as votive tablets. It continues to be difficult to identify Lydos’ products as such since they frequently differ only slightly from those of his immediate milieu. The style is quite homogenous, but the pieces vary considerably in quality. The drawings are not always carefully produced. Lydos was probably a foreman in a very productive workshop in Athens’pottery district. He was presumably the last Attic vase painter to put animal friezes on large vases. Still in the Corinthian tradition, his figure drawings are a link in the chain of vase painters extending from Kleitias via Lydos and the Amasis Painters to Exekias. Along with them he participated in the evolution of this art in Attica and had a lasting influence. [25]

A special form of Attic vases of this period was the Tyrrhenian amphora (550-530 BC). These were egg-shaped neck amphora with decorations atypical of the usual Attic design canon of the period. Almost all of the c. 200 surviving vases were found in Etruria. The body of the amphora is usually subdivided into several parallel friezes. The upper or shoulder frieze usually shows a popular scene from mythology. There are sometimes less common subjects, such as a unique scene of the sacrificing of Polyxena. The first known erotic images on Attic vases are also found at this vase location. The painters frequently put annotations on Tyrrhenian amphora which identify the persons shown. The other two or three friezes were decorated with animals sometimes one of them was replaced with a plant frieze. The neck is customarily painted with a lotus palmette cross or festoons. The amphoras are quite colorful and recall Corinthian products. In this case a Corinthian form was obviously deliberately copied to produce a particular vase type for the Etruscan market, where the style was popular. It is possible that this form was not manufactured in Athens but somewhere else in Attica, or even outside Attica. Important painters were the Castellani Painter and the Goltyr Painter.

The years of mastery Edit

The period between 560 and the inception of red-figure pottery painting around 530/520 BC is considered to be the absolute pinnacle of black-figure vase painting. In this period the best and most well-known artists exploited all the possibilities offered by this style. [26]

The first important painter of this time was the Amasis Painter (560–525 BC), named after the famous potter Amasis, with whom he primarily worked. Many researchers regard them as the same person. He began his painting career at about the same time as Lydos but was active over a period almost twice as long. Whereas Lydos showed more the abilities of a skilled craftsman, the Amasis Painter was an accomplished artist. His images are clever, charming and sophisticated [27] and his personal artistic development comes close to a reflection of the overall evolution of black-figure Attic vase painting at that time. His early work shows his affinity to the painters of Siana cups. Advances can be most easily recognized in how he draws the folds of clothing. His early female figures wear clothes without folds. Later he paints flat, angular folds, and in the end he is able to convey the impression of supple, flowing garments. [28] Drawings of garments were one of his chief characteristics he liked to depicted patterned and fringed clothing. The groups of figures which the Amasis Painter shows were carefully drawn and symmetrically composed. Initially they were quite static, later figures convey an impression of motion. Although the Amasis Painter often depicted mythological events—he is known for his pig-faced satyrs, for example—he is better known for his scenes of daily life. He was the first painter to portray them to a significant extent. His work decisively influenced the work of red-figure painters later. He possibly anticipated some of their innovations or was influenced by them toward the end of his painting career: on many of his vases women are only shown in outline, without a black filling, and they are no longer identifiable as women by the application of opaque white as skin color. [29]

Group E (550–525 v. Chr.) was a large, self-contained collection of artisans, and is considered to be the most important anonymous group producing black-figure Attic pottery. It rigorously broke with the stylistic tradition of Lydos both as to image and vessel. Egg-shaped neck amphoras were completely given up, column kraters almost entirely abandoned. Instead, this group introduced Type A belly amphoras, which then became an index form. Neck amphoras were usually produced only in customized versions. The group had no interest in small formats. Many scenes, especially those originating in myths, were reproduced again and again. Thus several amphoras of this group show Heracles with Geryon or the Nemean Lion, and increasingly Theseus and the Minotaur, as well as the birth of Athena. The particular significance of the group is, however, in the influence it exerted on Exekias. Most Attic artists of the period copied the styles of Group E and Exekias. The work of Lydos and the Amasis Painter was, by contrast, not imitated as frequently. Beazley describes the importance of the group for Exekias as follows: "Group E is the fertile ground from which the art of Exekias sprouts, the tradition which he takes up and surpasses on his way from an excellent craftsman to a true artist". [30]

Exekias (545-520 BC) is generally considered to be the absolute master of the black-figure style, which reaches its apex with him. [31] His significance is not only due to his masterful vase painting, but also to his high quality and innovative pottery. He signed 12 of his surviving vessels as potter, two as both painter and potter. Exekias probably had a large role in the development of Little-master cups and the Type A belly amphora mentioned above, and he possibly invented the calyx krater, at least the oldest existing piece is from his workshop. In contrast to many other comparable craftsmen, as a painter he attached great importance to the careful elaboration of ornaments. The details of his images—horses’ manes, weapons, clothing—are also outstandingly well executed. His scenes are usually monumental and the figures emanate a dignity previously unknown in painting. In many cases he broke with Attic conventions. For his most famous vessel, the Dionysus cup, he was the first to use a coral-red interior coating instead of the customary red color. This innovation, as well as his placing of two pairs of eyes on the exterior, connects Exekias with the classic eye cups. Probably even more innovative was his use of the entire inside of the cup for his picture of Dionysus, reclining on a ship from which grapevines sprout. At this time it was in fact customary to decorate the inside surface merely with a gorgon face. The cup [32] is probably one of the experiments undertaken in the pottery district to break new ground before the red-figure style was introduced. He was the first to paint a ship sailing along the rim of a dinos. He only seldom adhered to traditional patterns of depicting customary mythological subjects. His depiction of the suicide of Ajax is also significant. Exekias does not show the act itself, which was in the tradition, but rather Ajax’ preparations. [33] About as famous as the Dionysus cup is an amphora with his visualization of Ajax and Achilles engaged in a board game. [34] Not only is the portrayal detailed, Exekias even conveys the outcome of the game. Almost in the style of a speech balloon he has both players announce the numbers they cast with their dice—Ajax a three and Achilles a four. This is the oldest known depiction of this scene, of which there is no mention in classical literature. No fewer than 180 other surviving vases, dating from the Exekias version up to about 480 BC, show this scene. [35]

John Boardman emphasizes the exceptional status of Exekias which singles him out from traditional vase painters: "The people depicted by earlier artist are elegant dolls at best. Amasis (the Amasis Painter) was able to visualize people as people. But Exekias could envision them as gods and thereby give us a foretaste of classical art". [36]

Acknowledging that vase painters in ancient Greece were regarded as craftsmen rather than artists, Exekias is nevertheless considered by today's art historians to be an accomplished artist whose work can be compared with "major" paintings (murals and panel paintings) of that period. [37] His contemporaries apparently recognized this as well. The Berlin Collection of Classical Antiquities in the Altes Museum contains the remnants of a series of his votive tablets. The complete series probably had 16 individual panels. Placing such an order with a potter and vase painter is likely to be unique in antiquity and is evidence of the high reputation of this artist. The tablets show grieving for a dead Athenian woman as well as her lying in state and being transported to a gravesite. Exekias conveys both the grief and the dignity of the figures. One special feature, for example, is that the leader of the funeral procession turns his face to look at the viewer directly, so to speak. The depiction of the horses is also unique they have individual temperaments and are not reduced to their function as noble animals, as is otherwise customary on vases. [38]

There was further specialization among producers of vessels and cups during the mature Classical Period. The large-volume komast and Siana cups evolved via Gordion cups [39] into graceful variants called Little-master cups because of their delicate painting. The potters and painters of this form are accordingly called Little Masters. They chiefly painted band cups and lip cups. The lip cups [40] got their name from their relatively pronounced and delineated lip. The outside of the cup retained much of the clay background and typically bore only a few small images, sometimes only inscriptions, or in some cases the entire cup was only minimally decorated. Also in the area of the handles there are seldom more than palmettes or inscriptions near the attachment points. These inscriptions can be the potter's signature, a drinker's toast, or simply a meaningless sequence of letters. But lip cup interiors are often also decorated with images.

Band cups [41] have a softer transition between the body and the rim. The decoration is in the form of a band circling the cup exterior and can frequently be a very elaborate frieze. In the case of this form the rim is coated with a glossy black slip. The interior retains the color of the clay, except for a black dot painted in the center. Variations include Droop cups and Kassel cups. Droop cups [42] have black, concave lips and a high foot. As with classic band cups the rim is left black, but the area below it is decorated with ornaments like leaves, buds, palmettes, dots, nimbuses or animals on the cup exterior. Kassel cups [43] are a small form, squatter than other Little Masters cups, and the entire exterior is decorated. As in the case of Droop cups, primarily ornaments are painted. Famous Little Masters are the potters Phrynos, Sokles, Tleson and Ergoteles, the latter two being sons of the potter Nearchos. Hermogenes invented a Little Master variety of skyphos [44] now known as a Hermogenes skyphos. The Phrynos Painter, Taleides Painter, Xenokles Painter and the Group of Rhodes 12264 should also be mentioned here.

Lip cup by the potter Tleson with signature ("Tleson, son of nearchos, made me"), c. 540 BC, now in the Munich State Collection of Antiquities

Band cup by an unknown artist showing fighters, c. 540 BC, from Vulci, now in the Louvre, Paris

Droop cup by an unknown artist, c. 550/530 BC, from Greece, now in the Louvre, Paris

Kassel cup by an unknown artist, c. 540 BC, now in the Louvre, Paris

The last quarter of the 6th century BC Edit

Until the end of the century the quality of black-figure vase production could basically be maintained. But after the development of the red-figure style around 530 BC, presumably by the Andokides Painter, more and more painters went over to the red-figure style, which provided many more possibilities for adding details within the figure contours. The new style also permitted many more promising experiments with foreshortening, perspective views and new designs for arrangements. Scene contents, as always, reflected trends in taste and the spirit of the times, but the red-figure style created better preconditions for presenting more elaborate scenes by exploiting the new arrangement possibilities.

But in the meantime, a few innovative craftsmen could still give new impulses to the production of black-figure vases. The most imaginative potter of the time, also a talented businessman, was Nikosthenes. Over 120 vases bear his signature, indicating that they were made by him or in his workshop. He seems to have particularly specialized in producing vases for export to Etruria. In his workshop the usual neck amphoras, Little Masters, Droop and eye cups were produced, but also a type of amphora reminiscent of Etruscan bucchero pottery, named the Nikosthenic amphora after its creator. These pieces were found particularly in Caere, the other vase types usually in Cerveteri and Vulci. The many inventions in his workshop were not limited to forms. In Nikosthenes’ workshop what is known as the Six's technique was developed, in which figures were painted in reddish brown or white atop a black glossy slip. It is not clear whether Nikosthenes also painted vases, in which case he is usually presumed to be identical with Painter N. [45] The BMN Painter and the red-figure Nikosthenes Painter are also named after Nikosthenes. In his workshop he employed many famous vase painters, including the elderly Lydos, Oltos and Epiktetos. The workshop tradition was continued by Nikosthenes’ successor, Pamphaios. [46]

Two black-figure vase painters are considered to be mannerists (540-520 BC). The painter Elbows Out decorated primarily Little Masters cups. The extended elbows of his figures are conspicuous, a characteristic responsible for his pragmatic name. He only seldom depicted mythological scenes erotic scenes are much more common. He also decorated a rare vase form known as a lydion. The most important of the two painters was The Affecter, whose name comes from the exaggeratedly artificial impression made by his figures. These small-headed figures do not seem to be acting as much as posing. His early work shows scenes of daily life later he turned to decorative scenes in which figures and attributes are recognizable, but hardly actions. If his figures are clothed they look as if they were padded if they are naked they are very angular. The Affecter was both potter and painter over 130 of his vases have survived. [47]

The Antimenes Painter (530–500 BC) liked to decorate hydria with animal friezes in the predella, and otherwise especially neck amphoras. Two hydria attributed to him are decorated on the neck region using a white ground technique. He was the first to paint amphoras with a masklike face of Dionysus. The most famous of his over 200 surviving vases shows an olive harvest on the back side. His drawings are seldom really precise, but neither are they excessively careless. [48] Stylistically, the painter Psiax is closely related to the Antimenes Painter, although the former also used the red-figure technique. As the teacher of the painters Euphronius and Phintias, Psiax had a great influence on the early development of the red-figure style. He frequently shows horse and chariot scenes and archers. [49]

The last important group of painters was the Leagros Group (520-500 BC), named after the kalos inscription they frequently used, Leagros. Amphoras and hydria, the latter often with palmettes in the predella, are the most frequently painted vessels. The image field is usually filled absolutely to capacity, but the quality of the images is still kept very high. Many of the over 200 vases in this group were decorated with scenes of the Trojan War and the life of Heracles [50] Painters like the witty Acheloos Painter, the conventional Chiusi Painter, and the Daybreak Painter with his faithful detailing belong to the Leagros Group. [51]

Other well-known vase painters of the time are the Painter of the Vatican Mourner, The Princeton Painter, the Painter of Munich 1410 and the Swing Painter (540-520 BC), to whom many vases are attributed. He is not considered to be a very good artist, but his figures are unintentionally humorous because of the figures with their large heads, strange noses and frequently clenched fists. [52] The work of the Rycroft Painter bears a resemblance to red-figure vase painting and the new forms of expression. He liked to depict Dionysian scenes, horses and chariots, and the adventures of Heracles. He often uses outline drawings. The approximately 50 usually large-size vessels attributed to him are elegantly painted. [53] The Class of C.M. 218 primarily decorated variations of the Nikosthenic amphoras. The Hypobibazon Class worked with a new type of belly amphora with rounded handles and feet, whose decoration is characterized by a key meander above the image fields. A smaller variant of neck amphora was decorated by the Three Line Group. The Perizoma Group adopted around 520 BC the newly introduced form of the stamnos. Toward the end of the century, high quality productions were still being produced by the Euphiletos Painter, the Madrid Painter and the imaginative Priam Painter.

Particularly cup painters like Oltos, Epiktetos, Pheidippos and Skythes painted vases in both red- and black-figure styles (Bilingual Pottery), primarily eye cups. The interior was usually in the black-figure style, the exterior in the red-figure style. There are several cases of amphoras whose front and back sides are decorated in the two different styles. The most famous are works by the Andokides Painter, whose black-figure scenes are attributed to the Lysippides Painter. Scholars are divided on the issue of whether these painters are the same person. Only a few painters, for example the Nikoxenos Painter and the Athena Painter, produced large quantities of vases using both techniques. Although bilingual pottery was quite popular for a short time, the style went out of fashion already toward the end of the century. [54]

Late Period Edit

At the beginning of the 5th century BC until 480 BC at the latest, all painters of repute were using the red-figure style. But black-figure vases continued to be produced for some 50 additional years, with their quality progressively decreasing. The last painters producing acceptable quality images on large vases were the Eucharides Painter and the Kleophrades Painter. Only workshops which produced smaller shapes like olpes, oenoches, skyphos, small neck amphoras and particular lekythos increasingly used the old style. The Phanyllis Painter used the Six technique, among other methods, and both the Edinburgh Painter and the Gela Painter decorated the first cylindrical lekythos. The former primarily produced casual, clear and simple scenes using a black-figure style on a white ground. The white ground of the vases was quite thick and no longer painted directly on the clay foundation, a technique which became the standard for all white-ground vases. The Sappho Painter specialized in funerary lekythos. The workshop of the Haimon Painter was especially productive over 600 of their vases have survived. The Athena Painter (who is perhaps identical with the red-figure Bowdoin Painter) and the Perseus Painter continued to decorate large, standard lekythos. The scenes of the Athena Painter still radiate some of the dignity inherent in the work of the Leagros Group. The Marathon Painter is primarily known for the funerary lekythos found in the tumulus for the Athenians who died in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. The last significant lekythos painter, the Beldam Painter, worked from around 470 BC until 450 BC. Except for the Panathenaic prize amphoras, the black-figure style came to a close in Attica at this time. [55]

Panathenaic prize amphoras Edit

Among black-figure Attic vases, the Panathenaic prize amphoras play a special role. After 566 BC—when the Panathenaic celebrations were introduced or reorganized—they were the prize for the winners of sport competitions and were filled with olive oil, one of the city's main export goods. On the front they routinely bore the image of the goddess Athena standing between two pillars on which roosters perched on the back there was a sports scene. The shape was always the same and was only modified slightly over the long period of its production. The belly amphora was, as its name suggests, originally especially bulbous, with a short neck and a long, narrow foot. Around 530 BC the necks become shorter and the body somewhat narrower. Around 400 BC the vase shoulders were considerably reduced in width and the curve of the vase body looked constricted. After 366 BC the vases were again more elegant and become even narrower.

These vases were primarily produced in the leading workshops of the Kerameikos district. It seems to have been an honor or particularly lucrative to be awarded a commission for producing the vases. This also explains the existence of many prize amphoras by excellent vase painters. In addition to superior black-figure painters like the Euphiletos Painter, Exekias, Hypereides and the Leagros Group, many red-figure master craftsmen are known as creators of prize amphoras. These include the Eucharides Painter, the Kleophrades Painter, the Berlin Painter, the Achilleus Painter and Sophilos, who was the only one to have signed one of the surviving vases. The first known vase was produced by the Burgon Group and is known as the Burgon vase. Since the name of the ruling official (Archon) occasionally appears on the vase after the 4th century BC, some of the vases can be precisely dated. Since the Panathenaia were religious festivals, the style and the type of decoration changed neither during the red-figure period nor after figured vases were no longer really traded in Athens. The prize amphoras were produced into the 2nd century BC, and about 1,000 of them have survived. Since for some dates the number of amphorae awarded to a winner is known, it is possible to deduce that about one percent of the total production of Athenian vases has survived. Other projections lead to the conclusion that in all about seven million vases with painted figures were produced in Athens. [56] In addition to the prize amphoras, imitative forms known as Pseudo-Panathenaic prize amphoras were also manufactured. [57]

Laconia Edit

Starting already in the 7th century BC painted pottery was being produced in Sparta for local consumption as well as for export. The first quality pieces were produced around 580 BC. The zenith in black-figure pottery was reached between about 575 and 525 BC. Besides Sparta, the main discovery sites are the islands of Rhodes and Samos, as well as Taranto, Etruscan necropolises, and Cyrene, which was at first considered to be the original source of the pottery. The quality of the vessels is very high. The clay was well slurried and was given a cream-colored coating. Amphoras, hydriai, column kraters (called krater lakonikos in antiquity), volute kraters, Chalcidic kraters, lebes, aryballoi and the Spartan drinking cup, the lakaina, were painted. But the index form and most frequent find is the cup. In Lakonia the deep bowl was usually put on a high foot cups on low feet are rare. The exterior is typically decorated with ornaments, usually festoons of pomegranates, and the interior scene is quite large and contains figures. In Laconia earlier than in the rest of Greece the tondo became the main framework for cup scenes. The main image was likewise divided into two segments at an early date, a main scene and a smaller, lower one. Frequently the vessel was only coated with a glossy slip or decorated with just a few ornaments. Inscriptions are uncommon but can appear as name annotations. Signatures are unknown for potters as well as painters. It is probable that the Laconian craftsmen were perioeci pottery painters. Characteristic features of the pottery often match the fashion of known painters. It is also possible that they were migrant potters from eastern Greece, which would explain the strong eastern Greek influence especially on the Boreads Painter.

In the meantime at least eight vase painters can be distinguished. Five painters, the Arkesilas Painter (565–555), the Boreads Painter (575–565), the Hunt Painter, the Naucratis Painter (575–550) and the Rider Painter (550–530) are considered to be the more important representatives of the style, while other painters are regarded as craftsmen of lesser ability. The images are usually angular and stiff, and contain animal friezes, scenes of daily life, especially symposia, and many mythological subjects. Of the latter, Poseidon and Zeus are depicted especially frequently, but also Heracles and his twelve labors as well as the Theban and Trojan legend cycles. Especially on the early vases, a gorgon grimace is placed in a cup tondo. A depiction of the nymph Cyrene and a tondo with a rider with a scrolling tendril growing from his head (name vase of the Rider Painter) are exceptional. [58] Also important is a cup with an image of Arcesilaus II. The Arcesilas cup supplied the pragmatic name for the Arcesilas Painter. [59] It is one of the rare depictions on Greek pottery of current events or people. The subjects suggest Attic influence. A reddish purple was the main opaque color. At present over 360 Laconian vases are known, with almost a third of them, 116 pieces, being attributed to the Naucratis Painter. The decline around 550 BC of Corinthian black-figure vase painting, which had an important influence on Laconian painting, led to a massive reduction in the Laconian production of black-figure vases, which came to an end around 500 BC. The pottery was very widely distributed, from Marseille to Ionian Greece. On Samos, Laconian pottery is more common than Corinthian pottery because of the close political alliance with Sparta. [60]

Boeotia Edit

Black-figure vases were produced in Boeotia from the 6th to the 4th century BC. As late as the early 6th century BC many Boeotian painters were using the orientalizing outline technique. Afterward they oriented themselves closely on Attic production. Distinctions and attributions to one of the two regions are sometimes difficult and the vases can also be confused with Corinthian pottery. Low-quality Attic and Corinthian vases are often declared to be Boeotian works. Frequently, good Boeotian vases are considered to be Attic and poor Attic vases are falsely considered to be Boeotian. There was probably an exchange of craftsmen with Attica. In at least one case it is certain that an Attic potter emigrated to Boeotia (the Horse-Bird Painter, and possibly also the Tokra Painter, and among the potters certainly Teisias the Athenian). The most important subjects are animal friezes, symposia and komos scenes. Mythological scenes are rare, and when present usually show Heracles or Theseus. From the late 6th century through the 5th century a silhouette-like style predominated. Especially kantharos, lekanis, cups, plates and pitchers were painted. As was the case in Athens, there are kalos inscriptions. Boeotian potters especially liked to produce molded vases, as well as kantharos with sculptured additions and tripod pyxides. The shapes of lekanis, cups and neck amphoras were also taken over from Athens. The painting style is often humorous, and there is a preference for komos scenes and satyrs. [61]

Between 425 and 350 BC Kabeiric vases were the main black-figure style in Boeotia. In most cases this was a hybrid form between a kantharos and a skyphos with a deep bowl and vertical ring handles, but there were also lebes, cups and pyxides. They are named after the primary place where they were found, the Sanctuary of the Kabeiroi near Thebes. The scenes, usually painted on only one side of the vase, depict the local cult. The vases caricature mythological events in a humorous, exaggerated form. Sometimes komos scenes are shown, which presumably related directly to the cult. [62]

Euboea Edit

Black-figure vase painting in Euboea was also influenced by Corinth and especially by Attica. It is not always easy to distinguish these works from Attic vases. Scholars assume that most of the pottery was produced in Eretria. Primarily amphoras, lekythos, hydria and plates were painted. Large-format amphoras were usually decorated with mythological scenes, such as the adventures of Herakles or the Judgment of Paris. The large amphoras, derived from 7th century shapes, have tapering lips and usually scenes relating to weddings. They are apparently funerary vases produced for children who died before they could marry. Restrained employment of incising and regular use of opaque white for the floral ornaments were typical features of black-figure pottery from Eretria. In addition to scenes reflecting Attic models, there were also wilder scenes like the rape of a deer by a satyr or Heracles with centaurs and demons. The vases of the Dolphin Class were previously regarded as being Attic, but are now considered to be Euboic. However, their clay does not match any known Eretrian sources. Perhaps the pieces were produced in Chalcis. [63]

The origin of some black-figure regional styles is disputed. For example, Chalcidian pottery painting was once associated with Euboea in the meantime production in Italy is considered to be more likely.

Eastern Greece Edit

In hardly any other region of Greece are the borders between the orientalizing and black-figure styles as uncertain as in the case of vases from eastern Greece. Until about 600 BC only outline drawings and empty spaces were employed. Then during the late phase of the orientalizing style incised drawings began to appear, the new technique coming from northern Ionia. The animal frieze style which had previously predominated was certainly decorative, but offered few opportunities for further technical and artistic development. Regional styles arose, especially in Ionia.

Toward the end of the Wild Goat style, northern Ionian artists imitated—rather poorly—Corinthian models. But already in the 7th century high quality vases were being produced in Ionia. Since approximately 600 BC the black-figure style was used either entirely or in part to decorate vases. In addition to regional styles which developed in Klazomenai, Ephesus, Milet, Chios and Samos there were especially in northern Ionia styles which cannot be precisely localized. Oil flasks which adhered to the Lydian model (lydions) were common, but most of them were decorated only with stripes. There are also original scenes, for example a Scythian with a Bactrian camel, or a satyr and a ram. For some styles attribution is controversial. Thus the Northampton Group shows strong Ionian influence but production was probably in Italy, perhaps by immigrants from Ionia. [64]

In Klazomenai primarily amphoras and hydria were painted in the middle of the 6th century BC (c. 550 to 350 BC), as well as deep bowls with flat, angular-looking figures. The vessels are not very elegant in workmanship. Dancing women and animals were frequently depicted. Leading workshops were those of the Tübingen Painter, the Petrie Painter, and the Urla Group. Most of the vases were found in Naukratis and in Tell Defenneh, which was abandoned in 525 BC. Their origin was initially uncertain, but Robert Zahn identified the source by comparison with images on Klazomenian sarcophagi. The pottery was often decorated with sculptured women's masks. Mythological scenes were rare fishscale ornaments, rows of white dots, and stiff-looking dancing women were popular. The depection of a herold standing in front of a king and a queen is unique. In general, men were characterized by large, spade-shaped beards. Starting already in 600 BC and continuing to about 520 BC rosette cups, successor to the eastern Greece bird cups, were produced, probably in Klazomenai. [65]

Samian pottery first appeared around 560/550 BC with forms adopted from Attica. These are Little Masters cups and kantharos with facial forms. The painting is precise and decorative. Samos along with Milet and Rhodes was one of the main centers for the production of vases in the Wild Goat style. [66]

Rhodian vase painting is primarily known from Rhodian plates. These were produced using a polychrome technique with many of the details being incised as in black-figure painting. From about 560 to 530 BC situlas were common, inspired by Egyptian models. These show both Greek subjects, such as Typhon, as well as ancient Egyptian themes like Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian sport disciplines. [67]

Italy including Etruria Edit

Caeretan Hydria Edit

"Caeretan hydria" is the name used for an especially colorful style of black-figure vase painting. The origin of these vases is disputed in the literature. Based on an assessment of the painting the vases were long considered to be Etruscan or Corinthian, but in recent years the view predominates that the producers were two pottery painters who emigrated from eastern Greece to Caere (modern Cerveteri) in Etruria. Inscriptions in Ionic Greek support the emigration theory. The workshop existed for only one generation. Today about 40 vases produced by the two master craftsmen in this style are known. All are hydriai except for one alabastron. None were found outside of Etruria most came from Caere, which is the reason for their name. The vases are dated to approximately 530 to 510/500 BC. The Caeretan hydria are followed stylistically by neck amphoras decorated with stripes.

These technically rather inferior hydriai are 40–45 cm. high. The bodies of these vases have high and very prominent necks, broad shoulders, and low ring feet in the form of upside-down chalices. Many of the hydriai are misshapen or show faulty firing. The painted images are in four zones: a shoulder zone, a belly zone with figures and one with ornaments, and a lower section. All but the belly zone with figures are decorated with ornaments. There is only one case of both belly friezes having figures. Their multiple colors distinguish them from all other black-figure styles. The style recalls Ionian vase painting and multicolored painted wooden tablets found in Egypt. Men are shown with red, black or white skin. Women are almost always portrayed with an opaque white color. The contours as well as the details are incised, as is typical for the black-figure style. Surfaces of black glossy slip are often covered with an additional colored slip, so that the black slip which becomes visible where there is scoring supplies the various shapes with internal details. On the front side the images are always full of action, on the back heraldic designs are common. Ornaments are an important component of the hydrias they are not subsidiary to other motifs. Stencils were used to paint the ornaments they are not incised.

The Busiris Painter and the Eagle Painter are named as painters. The latter is considered the leading representative of this style. They were particularly interested in mythological topics which usually revealed an eastern influence. On the name vase by the Busiris painter, Heracles is trampling on the mythical Egyptian pharao Busiris. Heracles is frequently depicted on other vases as well, and scenes of daily life also exist. There are also uncommon scenes, such as Cetus accompanied by a white seal. [68]

Pontic vases Edit

The Pontic vases are also closely related stylistically to Ionian pottery painting. Also in this case it is assumed that they were produced in Etruscan workshops by craftsmen who emigrated from Ionia. The vases got their misleading name from the depiction on a vase of archers thought to be Scythians, who lived at the Black Sea (Pontus). Most of the vases were found in graves in Vulci, a significant number also in Cerveteri. The index form was a neck amphora with a particularly slender shape, closely resembling Tyrrhenian amphoras. Other shapes were oenochoes with spiral handles, dinos, kyathos, plates, beakers with high bases, and, less often, kantharos and other forms. The adornment of Pontic vases is always similar. In general there is an ornamental decoration on the neck, then figures on the shoulder, followed by another band of ornaments, an animal frieze, and finally a ring of rays. Foot, neck and handles are black. The importance of ornaments is noticeable, although they are often rather carelessly formed some vases are decorated only with ornaments. The clay of these vases is yellowish-red the slip covering the vases is black or brownish-red, of high quality, and with a metallic sheen. Red and white opaque colors are generously used for figures and ornaments. Animals are usually decorated with a white stripe on their bellies. Scholars have identified six workshops to date. The earliest and best is considered to be that of the Paris Painter. He shows mythological figures, included a beardless Heracles, as was customary in eastern Greece. Occasionally there are scenes which are not a part of Greek mythology, such as Heracles fighting Juno Sospita ("the Savior") by the Paris Painter, or a wolf demon by the Tityos Painter. There are also scenes of daily life, komos scenes, and riders. The vases are dated to a time between 550 and 500 BC, and about 200 are known. [69]

Etruria Edit

Locally produced Etruscan vases probably date from the 7th century BC. At first, they resemble black-figure models from Corinth and eastern Greece. It is assumed that in the early phase primarily Greek immigrants were the producers. The first important style was Pontic pottery painting. Afterward, in the period between 530 and 500 BC, the Micali Painter and his workshop followed. At this time Etruscan artists tended to follow Attic models and produced primarily amphoras, hydriai and jugs. They usually had komos and symposia scenes and animal friezes. Mythological scenes are less common, but they are very carefully produced. The black-figure style ended around 480 BC. Toward the end a mannerist style developed, and sometimes a rather careless silhouette technique. [70]

Chalcidian pottery Edit

Chalcidian vase painting was named from the mythological inscriptions which sometimes appeared in Chalcidian script. For this reason the origin of the pottery was first suspected to be Euboea. Currently it is assumed that the pottery was produced in Rhegion, perhaps also in Caere, but the issue has not yet been finally decided. [71] Chalcidian vase painting was influenced by Attic, Corinthian and especially Ionian painting. The vases were found primarily in Italian locations like Caeri, Vulci and Rhegion, but also at other locations of the western Mediterranean.

The production of Chalcidian vases began suddenly around 560 BC. To date, no precursors have been identified. After 50 years, around 510 BC, it was already over. About 600 vases have survived, and 15 painters or painter groups have been so far identified. These vases are characterized by high quality pottery work. The glossy slip which covers them is usually pitch-black after firing. The clay has an orange color. Red and white opaque colores were generously used in the painting, as was scoring to produce interior details. The index form is the neck amphora, accounting for a quarter of all known vases, but there are also eye cups, oenochoes and hydria other vessel types being less common. Lekanis and cups in the Etruscan style are exceptions. The vases are economical and stringent in construction. The "Chalcidian cup foot" is a typical characteristic. It is sometimes copied in black-figure Attic vases, less often in red-figured vases.

The most important of the known artists of the older generation is the Inscription Painter, of the younger representatives the Phineus Painter. The former is presumably the originator of the style some 170 of the surviving vases are attributed to the very productive workshop of the latter. He is probably also the last representative of this style. The images are usually more decorative than narrative. Riders, animal friezes, heraldic pictures or groups of people are shown. A large lotus-palmette cross is frequently part of the picture. Mythological scenes are seldom, but when they occur they are in general of exceptionally high quality.

Pseudo-Chalcidian vase painting is the successor to Chalcidian painting. It is close to Chalcidian but also has strong links to Attic and Corinthian vase painting. Thus the artists used the Ionian rather than the Chalcidian alphabet for inscriptions. The structure of the clay is also different. There are about 70 known vases of this type, which were first classified by Andreas Rumpf. It is possible that the artisans were successors to the Chalcidian vase painters and potters who emigrated to Etruria. [72]

Pseudo-Chalcidian vase painting is classified into two groups. The elder of the two is the Polyphemus Group, which produced most of the surviving vessels, primarily neck amphoras and oinochoes. Groups of animals are usually shown, less seldom mythological scenes. The vessels were found in Etruria, on Sicily, in Marsellle and Vix. The younger and less productive Memnon Group, to which 12 vases are currently attributed, had a much smaller geographical distribution, being limited to Etruria and Sicily. Except for one oinochoe they produced only neck amphoras, which were usually decorated with animals and riders. [73]

Other Edit

The vases of the Northampton Group were all small neck amphoras with the exception of a single belly amphora. They are stylistically very similar to northern Ionian vase painting, but were probably produced in Italy rather than in Ionia, perhaps in Etruria around 540 BC. The vases of this group are of very high quality. They show rich ornamental decorations and scenes that have captured the interest of scholars, such as a prince with horses and someone riding on a crane. They are similar to the work of the Group of Campana Dinoi and to the so-called Northampton Amphora whose clay is similar to that of Caeretan hydriai. The Northampton Group was named after this amphora. The round Campana hydriai recall Boeotian and Euboean models. [74]

Other regions Edit

Alabastrons with cylindrical bodies from Andros are rare, as are lekanis from Thasos. These are reminiscent of Boeotian products except that they have two animal friezes instead of the single frieze common for Boeotia. Thasian plates rather followed Attic models and with their figured scenes are more ambitious than on the lekanis. Imitations of vases from Chios in the black-figure style are known. Local black-figure pottery from Halai is also rare. After the Athenians occupied Elaious on the Dardanelles, local black-figure pottery production began there as well. The modest products included simple lekanis with outline images. A small number of vases in black-figure style were produced in Celtic France. They too were almost certainly inspired by Greek vases. [75]

Scholarly research on these vases started especially in the 19th century. Since this time the suspicion has intensified that these vases have a Greek rather than an Etruscan origin. Especially a Panathenaic prize amphora found by Edward Dodwell in 1819 in Athens provided evidence. The first to present a proof was Gustav Kramer in his work Styl und Herkunft der bemalten griechischen Tongefäße (1837). However it took several years for this insight to be generally accepted. Eduard Gerhard published an article entitled Rapporto Volcente in the Annali dell’Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica in which he systematically investigated the vases he was the first scholar to do so. Toward this end in 1830 he studied vases found in Tarquinia, comparing them, for example, with vases found in Attica and Aegina. During this work he identified 31 painter and potter signatures. Previously, only the potter Taleides was known. [76]

The next step in research was scientific cataloging of the major vase collections in museums. In 1854 Otto Jahn published the vases in the Munich State Collection of Antiquities. Previously, catalogs of the Vatican museums (1842) and the British Museum (1851) had been published. The description of the vase collection in the Berlin Collection of Classical Antiquities, put together in 1885 by Adolf Furtwängler, was especially influential. Furtwängler was the first to classify the vessels by region of artistic origin, technology, style, shape, and painting stye, which had a lasting effect on subsequent research. In 1893 Paul Hartwig attempted in his book Meisterschalen to identify various painters based on kalos inscriptions, signatures and style analyses. Edmond Pottier, curator at the Louvre, initiated in 1919 the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. All major collections worldwide are published in this series, which as of 2009 amounted to over 300 volumes. [77]

Scientific research on Attic vase painting owes a great deal to John D. Beazley. He began studying these vases in about 1910, making use of the method developed by the art historian Giovanni Morelli for studying paintings, which had been refined by Bernard Berenson. He assumed that each painter created original works which could always be unmistakably attributed. He made use of particular details such as faces, fingers, arms, legs, knees, and folds of clothing. Beazley studied 65,000 vases and fragments, of which 20,000 were black-figure. In the course of his studies, which lasted almost six decades, he could attribute 17,000 of them by name or by using a system of pragmatic names, and classified them into groups of painters or workshops, relationships and stylistic affinity. He identified over 1,500 potters and painters. No other archaeologist had such a decisive influence on the research of an archaeological field as did Beazley, whose analyses remain valid to a large extent up to the present time. After Beazley, scholars like John Boardman, Erika Simon and Dietrich von Bothmer investigated black-figure Attic vases. [78]

Basic research on Corinthian pottery was accomplished by Humfry Payne, who in the 1930s made a first stylistic classification which is, in essence, being used up to the present time. He classified the vases according to shape, type of decoration and image subjects, and only afterward did he make distinctions as to painters and workshops. He followed Beazley's method except for attributing less importance to allocating painters and groups since a chronological framework was more important for him. Jack L. Benson took on this allocation task in 1953 and distinguished 109 painters and groups. Last of all, Darrell A. Amyx summarized the research up to that point in his 1988 book Corinthian Vase-Painting of the Archaic Period. It is however a matter of scholarly dispute whether it is at all possible in the case of Corinthian pottery to attribute specific painters. [79]

Laconian pottery was known since the 19th century from a significant number of vases from Etruscan graves. At first they were erroneously attributed, being considered for a long time to be a product of Cyrene, where some of the earliest pieces were also found. Thanks to British excavations carried out in Sparta's Sanctuary of Artemis Orthia, their true origin was quickly identified. In 1934, Arthur Lane put together all the known material and was the first archaeologist to identify different artists. In 1956 the new discoveries were studied by Brian B. Shefton. He reduced the number of distinct painters by half. In 1958 and 1959 other new material from Taranto was published. A significant number of other vases were also found on Samos. Conrad Michael Stibbe studied anew all 360 vases known to him and published his findings in 1972. He identified five major and three minor painters. [80]

In addition to research on Attic, Corinthian and Laconian vase painting, archaeologists are frequently especially interested in minor Italian styles. The Caeretan hydriai were first identified and named by Carl Humann and Otto Puchstein. Andreas Rumpf, Adolf Kirchhoff and other archaeologists erroneously suspected the origin of Chalkidischen Pottery to be Euboea. Georg Ferdinand Dümmler is responsible for the false naming of the Pontic vases, which he assumed to come from the Black Sea area because of the depiction of a Scythian on one of the vases. [81] In the meantime, research on all styles is carried out less by individuals than by a large international group of scientists.

An Investigation of Black Figures in Classical Greek Art

Pitcher (Oinochoe) in the Form of the Head of an African, about 510 B.C., attributed to Class B bis: Class of Louvre H 62. Terracotta, 8 7/16 in. high. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 83.AE.229. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

In ancient Greece, men often escaped their daily grind to socialize at a symposium, or formalized drinking party. In the symposium, revelers indulged in numerous leisure activities centered around the consumption of wine. Among the variety of ceramic vessels that were used, pitchers of many shapes and sizes enabled wine pourers to fill the drinkers’ cups.(1) One example is this oinochoe now on display in the new Athenian vases gallery at the Getty Villa.

Pitcher (Oinochoe) in the Form of the Head of an African, with the label that accompanies it in Athenian Vases (Gallery 103) at the Getty Villa

This head-shaped wine pitcher invites numerous questions. The first is, quite simply, how to describe it. How can curators responsibly and comprehensively create a label for this pitcher? Is this face best characterized as “black,” “African,” or “black-glazed”?

The term “black” is unsuitable, because it transports our modern color politics into antiquity the Trans-Atlantic slave trade has permanently mangled any attempt to use this color objectively.

The geographical marker “African” initially seems like a sound alternative. Unlike the historical weight of “black,” using the name of a continent seems to sidestep the retrojection of slavery’s violent history. It also presents a utopian description that unites fifty-four countries and millions of people into a collective entity. To use the word “African” for this pitcher, however, is to irresponsibly project contemporary concerns onto the past. The notion of “Africa” was vague at the time of production of this vessel, around 500 BC the Greek term for the region, “Libya,” referred generally to the northern and northeast regions of the continent. “Aithiopian” was another popular term used to describe people with black skin the etymology of Aithiopia highlights this relationship: aithō (I blaze) + ops (face).

Map of the World According to Herodotus, Wellcome Collection. Digital image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (CC BY 4.0)

What about our third option to describe this vessel, “black-glazed”? This term softens modern racial thinking by enabling a focus on material composition the description recognizes color but does not subscribe to any color-based hierarchy. Although it is naïve to imagine that the black-glazed face, paired with full lips and a broad nose, does not evoke comparison with real people, I would argue that “black-glazed” is preferable because it extends beyond its modern politicized counterpart, “Black.”(2) The hyphen emphasizes its artificial status the label reflects artistic license rather than historical prejudices.

Now let us contextualize the description of this pitcher. The Getty Villa’s label tells us that “occasional scenes on Athenian vases show Africans as slaves, and this stereotyped representation combines servant and serving vessel.” Art historian François Lissarrague also interprets the black-glazed faces on other drinking cups and pitchers as servants in the symposium.(3)

High-Handled Drinking Cup (Kantharos) in the Form of Two Heads, about 510–480 B.C., the London Class. Terracotta, 7 9/16 in. high. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Henry Lillie Pierce Fund, 98.926. Photograph © 2018 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Some literary evidence supports this claim one of the character sketches in the late fourth century BCE Theophrastus’ Characters describes a black person as an exotic servant for a petty man.(4) But other ancient Greek texts contradict this characterization Homeric epics describe black people as semi-divine creatures whose country was a relaxing oasis for the gods.(5) Furthermore, visual references on ancient Greek vases depict black people in numerous roles: political allies, musicians, religious worshippers, soldiers, and servants.(6)

Attic White-ground Alabastron, about 480 B.C., Greek. Terracotta, 5 11/16 in. high. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 71.AE.202. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

It is dangerous to fold selective history into the discussion without any reflective comments about the speculative work at play here. Although it is plausible that some black people were slaves in the fifth century BCE, there is no sure sign that this was the case in all situations.

Cover of Benjamin Isaac’s The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity. Princeton University Press, 2004

The need for careful treatment of black people in ancient Greek art extends beyond this pitcher. On the cover of Roman historian Benjamin Isaac’s 2004 book The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity, a troubling scene encourages anachronistic interpretations.

Here, we are confronted with a depiction of a violent encounter between a man and six other men. The person in the middle of the scene looms large and distinct his upright pose and stark nakedness stand in sharp contrast to the clothed people in contorted positions around him. There are other visual clues that suggest his dominance. All of the men who come into contact with him either writhe under his feet or are firmly in his grasp. They are no match for his strength he plows through them without hesitation.

Perhaps in collaboration with Isaac, Princeton University Press (the publishers of this book) chose this image as a cover for an important contribution to the discussion of racism in antiquity. This artistic rendition is based on a modern illustration of a sixth-century BCE black-figure hydria (water jar).(7)

This impressive vase can currently be seen at the Getty Center in the exhibition Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World. It depicts Herakles as he resists Egyptians’ attempts to sacrifice him under the orders of the Egyptian king Bousiris. According to ancient Greek mythology, Bousiris received a prophecy that stipulated the sacrifice of a foreigner in order to stop a drought that was destroying his city. When Herakles entered Egypt, Bousiris tried to slaughter him, but the Greek hero fought back and eventually escaped.

Water Jar with Herakles and Bousiris, about 510 B.C., Greek. Clay, 17 15/16 in. high × 15 11/16 in. diam. Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Antikensammlung. © ‘KHM-Museumsverband’

Although the visual similarities between the cover and the water vessel above are striking, the ancient image allows for a more sophisticated approach to skin color than the book cover’s partial rendering of the scene. On the vase, black skin is capacious and flexible it is not limited to those near Herakles. The crouching Egyptian priest on the left of the altar, as well as the Egyptian with raised hands to the right of the altar, have black skin. The black lines framing the scene and the black patterned designs on opposite sides of the scene also destabilize any quick interpretation of this color in antiquity. Skin color is only one element of this scene the main theme appears to be the inverted violence that has occurred. The fear of the nine men is palpable one has even climbed on top of the altar meant for Herakles. To add a final twist, Herakles’ skin tone on this jar is dark red.(8) Herakles’ blackness, as it appears today, is due to the worn state of the jar’s surface.

Water Jar with Herakles and Bousiris (detail). Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Antikensammlung. © ‘KHM-Museumsverband’

There are numerous examples of this sacrificial scene on ancient Greek pottery. Another depiction portrays Herakles as a figure whose skin color does not differ from those around him.

Pelike with Herakles and Bousiris, about 470 B.C., Pan Painter. Terracotta. National Archaeological Museum, Athens, 09683. Photo: Marsyas, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.5) license. Image: Wikimedia Commons

On this fifth-century BCE storage jar, Herakles (on the left of the altar) again uses his sheer strength to punish the Egyptians. But there is a different awareness of color dynamics at play on this jar. Rather than a depiction of Herakles with black skin, blackness dominates the background of this vessel. Herakles’ black hair and black beard set him apart from the bald and clean-shaven Egyptians. This does not mean, however, that his chromatic appearance is particularly important in this scene. Instead, blackness literally fades into the background. It offers a visual palette for a powerful scene rather than a reflection of color-based power dynamics. Herakles’ lion-skin cloak and club are more helpful indicators of his identity.(9) In addition, the physiognomy of Herakles marks him as distinct from the Egyptians his long nose and thin lips stand in contrast to their broad noses and full lips.

Altogether, it is undeniable that the image on Isaac’s cover reproduces an ancient representation of Herakles. But the cover art is also eerily reminiscent of contemporary discourse about Blackness. In particular, it suggests a dangerous connection between violence and the (modern) Black male body. This cover misleads anyone interested in ancient discussions of black skin because the contents of this book do not adequately address this topic. This omission encourages viewers and readers to assume that this image is an accurate representation of black people in Greek antiquity. Barring the caption on the back of the book, the image is presented without any context people who judge books by their covers will jump to inaccurate conclusions. The permanently violent coding of black skin color is incorrect and irresponsible there are no historical roots tracing this presumed innate threat.

In sum, museum and academic scholars are key players in the fight for contextualized and equitable perspectives of black people in antiquity they curate exhibits and write books that greatly influence vast audiences. Preconceived notions of Black people are seared into our country’s collective consciousness without an overhaul of the “black=slaves in perpetuity” trope, damaging stereotypes become ossified as facts for future generations. This brief examination has revealed ancient Greek art to be an expansive landscape. Ancient Greece’s visual heritage included representations of black people that nimbly provoked and cut across hierarchies. Objects like the sixth-century BCE head-shaped pitcher and water jar discussed above were not part of any chromatic hierarchy because such categories had yet to be codified. Instead, they existed within their own historical and artistic context.


1. Various types of head-shaped vessels were produced around this time see this example in the form of a woman’s head in the Getty Villa collection.

2. I use “Black” to refer to the contemporary, socially constructed group of people, and “black” to designate people who are described as having black skin in ancient Greek literature and art.

3. François Lissarrague, “Athenian Image of the Foreigner,” translated by Antonia Nevill. In Thomas Harrison, ed., Greeks and Barbarians (Routledge Press, 2002): 108–9.

4. Theophrastus, 21.4.2.

5. Iliad 1.423, Odyssey, 1.22-23.

6. For more examples, see Frank Snowden Jr. “Aithiopes,” in Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Volume I: Aara-Aphlad (Artemis Publishers, 1981): 415-18.

7. For a clearer rendition of the colors on this jar, see Perseus Digital Library.

8. Jaap M. Hemelrijk, Caeretan Hydriae (Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1984): 52-54.

9. Herakles killed and skinned a lion during the first of his Twelve Labors (feats he completed to atone for his madness-induced murder of his family).

Further Reading

Ancient Visual Sources

David Bindman and Henry Louis Gates Jr., eds., The Image of the Black in Western Art: From the Pharaohs to the Fall of the Roman Empire (Volume I) (Harvard University Press, 2010). This handsome volume presents vivid iconography and robust descriptions of black people in the Greco-Roman world. The first edition of this volume was published in 1976 with editors Jean Vercoutter, Jean Leclant, Frank Snowden Jr., and Jehan Desanges.

Ancient Literary Sources

Rebecca Futo Kennedy, C. Sydnor Roy, and Max L. Goldman, trans., Race and Ethnicity in the Classical World: An Anthology of Primary Sources in Translation (Hackett Publishing, 2013). Through their translation of ancient Greek and Latin sources, Kennedy, Roy, and Goldman present a comprehensive overview of the peoples of the ancient world. Selected passages (pp. 111–202) focus on northern and eastern Africa.


Denise McCoskey, Race: Antiquity and Its Legacy (Oxford University Press, 2012). McCoskey investigates what versions of racial formation ancient Greeks and Romans utilized.

James H. Dee, “Black Odysseus, White Caesar: When Did ‘White People’ Become ‘White’?,” The Classical Journal 99 (2, 2003/4): 157-67. Dee points out how easy, and how dangerous, it is to inject contemporary views of skin color into Greek antiquity.

Useful Online Resources

Eidolon’s journal articles about the danger of importing colorblindness and the dream of “White Europe” into antiquity.

Insightful blog posts about the diversity of the ancient world by Classicist Rebecca Futo Kennedy here and here.

Pharos’ progressive approach to Classics via the dismantling of racist manipulations of the discipline.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

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Black-Figure Neck Amphora

Unknown 40.4 × 26.2 cm (15 7/8 × 10 5/16 in.) 86.AE.79

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Object Details


Athens, Greece (Place Created)

Object Number:

40.4 × 26.2 cm (15 7/8 × 10 5/16 in.)

Alternate Title:

Storage Jar with Dionysos (Display Title)

Object Type:
Object Description

Horses were an integral part of the Greek world, used for transportation, entertainment, and warfare. Because of their high cost of maintenance, they also served as symbols of wealth and status. This Athenian black‑figure neck amphora depicts two men leading their mounts. Each man wears a petasos, or broad‑brimmed traveler's hat, and carries two spears. As this vase shows, Greek riders controlled their horses with reins and a bridle, but they had no saddle or stirrups. These men lead their horses at their shoulder on short reins. This follows the practice described by the historian and general Xenophon about a century and a half after this vase was made. In his text The Art of Horsemanship, Xenophon warned against allowing the horse to get either too far ahead or behind on a long lead. By using short reins, the rider could mount the horse quickly if necessary and prevent the horse from getting into mischief.

The back of the amphora depicts the festive atmosphere surrounding Dionysos, the god of wine. Dionysos stands calmly holding his kantharos, or drinking cup, while his companions dance and make music. A satyr, a creature part animal and part human, plays the aulos, or double flutes, and a maenad plays castanet‑like instruments known as krotala.

1962 - 1983

Walter Bareiss, American, born Germany, 1919 - 2007 and Molly Bareiss, American, 1920 - 2006 (Stamford, Connecticut), distributed to the Mary S. Bareiss 1983 Trust, 1983.

1983 - 1986

Mary S. Bareiss 1983 Trust, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986.


"Acquisitions/1986." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 15 (1987), pp. 160-61, no. 7.

Laurin, Joseph R. Poets of Tragedy in Classical Athens (Victoria: Trafford Publishing, 2008), fig. 3, p. 153.

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The National Museum was officially established by King João VI of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves (1769–1826) in 1818 with the name Royal Museum, in an initiative to stimulate scientific research in the Kingdom of Brazil, then a constituent part of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves. Initially, the museum housed plant and animal specimens, especially birds, which caused it to be known by locals n as the "House of the Birds".

After the marriage of King João VI's eldest son and Brazil's first Emperor, Dom Pedro I (1798–1834), to H.I. & R.H. Archduchess Maria Leopoldina of Austria (1797–1826), the Museum started to attract some of the greatest European naturalists of the 19th century, such as Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied (1782–1867), Johann Baptist von Spix (1781–1826), and Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius (1794–1868). Other European researchers who explored the country, such as Augustin Saint-Hilaire (1799–1853) and the Baron von Langsdorff (1774–1852), contributed to the collections of the Royal Museum. [18]

By the end of the 19th century, reflecting the personal preferences of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Pedro II (1825–1891), the National Museum started to invest in the areas of the anthropology, paleontology and archaeology. The Emperor himself, who was an avid amateur scientist and enthusiastic supporter of all branches of science, contributed with several of the collections of the art of Ancient Egypt, botanical fossils, etc., which he acquired during many of his trips abroad. In this way, the National Museum was modernized and became the most important museum of natural history and human sciences of South America. Edmund Roberts visited the museum in 1832, noting that the museum only had three open rooms at that time, and that the closed rooms were "sadly plundered of its contents by Don Pedro." [19]

D. Pedro II was well aware of the shortage of true scientists and naturalists in Brazil. He fixed this problem by inviting foreign scientists to come to work at the Museum. The first to come was Ludwig Riedel (1761–1861), a German botanist who had participated in Baron von Langsdorff's famed expedition to Mato Grosso from 1826 to 1828. Other scientists to come were German chemist Theodor Peckolt and American geologist and paleontologist Charles Frederick Hartt (1840–1878). In the following years, the museum gradually became known so it continued to attract several foreign scientists who wished to achieve scientific stature with their work in Brazil, such as Fritz Müller (1821–1897), Hermann von Ihering (1850–1930), Carl August Wilhelm Schwacke (1848–1894), Orville Adalbert Derby (1851–1915), Émil August Goeldi (1859–1917), Louis Couty (1854–1884) and others all of them were fired by museum director Ladislau Netto when the Emperor was deposed.

The Emperor was a very popular figure when he was deposed by a military coup in 1889, so the republicans tried to erase the symbols of the Empire. One of these symbols, the Paço de São Cristóvão, the official residence of the emperors in the Quinta da Boa Vista, became vacant therefore, in 1892, the National Museum, with all its collections, valuables and researchers, was transferred to this palace, where it stays until today.

In 1946, the museum's management was passed to the University of Brazil, currently the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The researchers and their offices and laboratories occupy a good part of the palace and other buildings erected at Botanical Gardens (Horto Florestal), in the Quinta da Boa Vista park – one of the largest scientific libraries of Rio. The National Museum offers graduate courses in the following areas: anthropology, sociology, botany, geology, paleontology, and zoology.

It was presented as a Lego Idea. [20]

The museum sheltered one of the largest exhibits of the Americas, prior to the fire, consisting of animals, insects, minerals, aboriginal collections of utensils, Egyptian mummies and South American archaeological artifacts, meteorites, fossils and many other findings.

One of the meteorites that was on display is the Bendegó meteorite, which weighs over 5,000 kilograms (11,000 lb) and was discovered in 1784. [21]

Archaeology Edit

The collection of archaeology of the National Museum comprised more than 100,000 objects, covering distinct several civilizations that lived in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, since the Paleolithic Age until the 19th century. The collection is subdivided into four main segments: Ancient Egypt, Mediterranean cultures, Pre-Columbian archaeology, and Pre-Columbian Brazil – last nucleus, systematically gathered since 1867, is the largest segment of the archaeological collection, as well as the most important collection of its typology in the world, covering the history of Pre-Cabraline Brazil in a very comprehensive manner and sheltering some of the most important material records related to Brazilian archaeology. It was, therefore, a collection of considerable scientific value, and object of several works of basic research, theses, dissertations, and monographs. [22] [23]

Ancient Egypt Edit

With more than 700 items, the collection of Egyptian archaeology of the National Museum was one of the largest of Latin America and one of the oldest in the Americas. Most part of the objects entered the museum collection in 1826, when the tradesman Nicolau Fiengo brought from Marseille an assemblage of Egyptian antiquities that belonged to the famous Italian explorer Giovanni Battista Belzoni, who had been in charge of excavating the Theban Necropolis (modern-day Luxor) and the Temple of Karnak. [24]

This collection had Argentina as the initial destination, and had probably been ordered by the president of that country, Bernardino Rivadavia, creator of the University of Buenos Aires and a noted enthusiast of museums. However, a naval blockade at the La Plata River would impede Fiengo from completing his journey, forcing him to return from Montevideo to Rio de Janeiro, where the pieces were offered at an auction. Emperor Pedro I bought the entire collection for five million réis, and subsequently donated it to the National Museum. It has been suggested that the action of Pedro I would have been influenced by José Bonifácio de Andrada, a relevant early member of Freemasonry in Brazil, perhaps driven by the interest that the organization had for the Egyptian iconography. [25] [26] [27]

The collection started by Pedro I would be expanded by his son, emperor Pedro II, an amateur Egyptologist and notable collector of archaeological and ethnographic artifacts. One of the most important additions to the Egyptian collection of the National Museum made by Pedro II is the polychromed wood sarcophagus of the singer of Amun, Sha-Amun-en-su, from the Late Period, offered to the emperor as a gift during his second trip to Egypt, in 1876, by the Khedive Ismail Pasha. The sarcophagus is distinguished for its rarity, since it is one of few examples that have never been opened, still preserving the mummy of the singer in its interior. [24] The collection would be enriched through other acquisitions and donations, becoming, at the beginning of the 20th-century, sufficiently relevant to draw the attention of international researchers and Egyptologists, such as Alberto Childe, who served as conservator of the Department of Archaeology of the museum between 1912 and 1938 and was also responsible for publishing the Guide of the Collections of Classical Archaeology of the National Museum, in 1919. [25] [26] [27]

Besides the aforementioned coffin of Sha-Amun-en-su, the museum possesses other three sarcophagi, from the Third Intermediate Period and the Late Era, belonging to three priests of Amun: Hori, Pestjef, and Harsiese. The museum also conserves six human mummies (four adults and two children), as well as a number of mummies and sarcophagi of animals (cats, ibises, fishes, and crocodiles). Among the human examples, the highlight is a mummy of a woman from the Roman Period, which is considered extremely rare for the preparatory technique used, of which there are only eight similar examples worldwide. Called "princess of the Sun" or "princess Kherima", the mummy has her members and fingers of the hands and feet individually swaddled and is richly adorned, with painted strips. [27] "Princess Kherima" is one of the most popular items of the National Museum collection, being even related to accounts of parapsychological experiences and collective trances, that supposedly occurred in the 1960s. "Kherima" also inspired the romance The Secret of the Mummy by Everton Ralph, member of the Rosicrucian society. [25] [28] [29]

The collection of votive and funerary steles is composed of dozens of pieces dated, in their majority, from the Intermediate Period and the Late Era. The steles of Raia and Haunefer, which are graved with titles of Semitic origins present in the Bible and in the tablets of Mari, stand out, as well as an unfinished stele, attributed to the emperor Tiberius, of the Roman Period. The museum also had a vast collection of shabtis, i.e. statuettes representing funerary servers, including a group of pieces that belonged to pharaoh Seti I, excavated from his tomb at the Valley of the Kings. The rare artifacts included a limestone statue of a young woman, dated of the New Kingdom, carrying a conic ointment vessel on the top of her head – an iconography that is almost exclusively found among paintings and reliefs. The collection also includes fragments of reliefs, masks, statues of deities in bronze, stone and wood (such as representations of Ptah-Sokar-Osiris), canopic jars, alabaster bowls, funerary cones, jewels, and amulets. [25] [27] [30]

Stele of Raia. New Kingdom, XIX Dynasty, c. 1300–1200 BC

Sarcophagus of Hori. Third Intermediate Period, XXI Dynasty, c. 1049–1026 BC .

Golden mask. Ptolemaic Kingdom, c. 304 BC .

Mediterranean cultures Edit

The collection of classical archaeology of the National Museum added up to around 750 pieces and consists mostly of Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and Italiote objects, being the largest collection of its kind in Latin America. Most of the pieces previously belonged to the Greco-Roman collection of empress Teresa Cristina, who had been interested in archaeology since her youth. When the empress disembarked in Rio de Janeiro in 1843, right after her proxy wedding to emperor Pedro II, she brought an assemblage of antiquities found during the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii, the Ancient Roman cities destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Part of this collection had also belonged to Carolina Murat, sister of Napoleon Bonaparte and queen consort of the king of Naples, Joachim Murat. [31] [32] [33]

In turn, Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, brother of empress Teresa Cristina, had ordered the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii, initiated in the 18th century, be resumed. The recovered pieces were sent to the Royal Bourbon Museum of Naples. Aiming to increase the number of classical artifacts in Brazil with a view to the future creation of a museum of Greco-Roman archaeology in the country, the empress established formal exchanges with the Kingdom of Naples. She requested the shipment of Greco-Roman objects to Rio de Janeiro, while sending artifacts of indigenous origins to Italy. The empress also personally financed excavations in Veios, an Etruscan archeological site located fifteen kilometers north of Rome, thus enabling a large part of the objects found there to be brought to Brazil. A greater part of those had been gathered between 1853 and 1859, but Teresa Cristina continued to enrich the collection until the fall of the Brazilian empire in 1889, when the Republic was proclaimed and the empress left the country with all the royal family. [31] [32]

Among the highlights of the collection were a set of four frescos from Pompeii, made around the 1st century AD. Two of those are decorated with marine motifs, respectively depicting a sea dragon and a seahorse as the central figure surrounded by dolphins, and had adorned the lower walls of the room of the devotees at the Temple of Isis. The other two frescos are decorated with representations of plants, birds, and landscapes, stylistically close to the paintings of Herculaneum and Stabiae. The museum also housed a large number of objects from Pompeii portraying the daily life of Ancient Roman citizens: fibulae, jewels, mirrors, and other pieces of the Roman female toilette, glass and bronze vessels, phallic amulets, oil lamps molded in terracotta, etc. [28] [33] [34]

The collection of Mediterranean pottery comprised more than dozens of objects and is noted for the diversity of origins, shapes, decorations and utilitarian purposes. Several of the most important styles and schools of classical antiquity are represented, from the Corinthian geometric style of the 7th century BC to the Roman terracotta amphoras of the Early Christian era. The museum houses examples of kraters, oenochoai, kantharos, chalices, kyathos, cups, hydriai, lekythoi, askoi, and lekanides. The groups of Etruscan Bucchero pottery (7th–4th centuries BC), Greek black-figure vases (7th–5th centuries BC), Gnathian vessels (4th century BC), and the vast set of Italian red-figure vases, with ceramics from Apulia, Campania, Lucania and Magna Graecia, which also stand out. [28]

The collection of sculptures comprised a large number of Tanagra figurines, small terracotta sculptures of Greek origin that were widely appreciated in the Ancient world, as well as a group of Etruscan bronze statuettes representing warriors and female figures. The collection of military artifacts included entire pieces or fragments of helmets, maces, scabbards, bronze blades, brooches and phalleras. [28]

Venus or Leda. Alabaster sculpture, Hellenistic.

Etruscan caryatid chalice, c. 620–560 BC

Corinthian oinochoe with lid, c. 600–575 BC

Campanian Red-figure chalice krater, late 4th century BC

Pre-Columbian archaeology Edit

The National Museum housed an important group of about 1,800 artifacts produced by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas during the Pre-Columbian era, as well as Andean mummies. Gathered throughout the 19th century, the collection was based on holdings of the Brazilian royal family, with several objects coming from the private collection of Emperor Pedro II. It was later enlarged through acquisitions, donations, exchanges, and excavations. By the end of the 19th-century, the collection already had considerable prestige, being cited, on the occasion of opening the 1889 Anthropological Exposition, as one of the largest collections of South American archaeology. [28] [35] [36]

The collection comprised mostly objects related to the textile manufacturing, featherwork, ceramic production, and stonecraft of the Andean cultures (groups of Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina) and, to a lesser extent, of the Amazonian natives (including a rare assemblage of artifacts from the area of present-day Venezuela) and Mesoamerican cultures (mainly from present-day Mexico and Nicaragua). Several aspects of the daily routine, social organization, religiosity, and imagery of the Pre-Columbian civilizations are addressed in the collection, which has items from common daily use (clothing, body ornaments, weapons) to more refined artifacts, imbued with notable artistic sense (measurement and musical instruments, ritual objects, figurative ceramic sculptures and vessels distinguished for their aesthetic features). [35] [28] Other aspects of Pre-Columbian life, such as the dynamics of trade, ideological diffusion, and cultural influences among the groups, are also represented in the collection. Items are evaluated in terms of the similarity of decorative patterns and artistic techniques, as well as in the subjects portrayed. Common to nearly all distinct groups are such subjects as plants, nocturnal animals (bats, serpents, owls), and fantastic creatures associated to natural elements and phenomena. [37] [28] [38]

The best represented groups, in the context of Andean cultures, include:

    , which flourished on the southern coast of Peru between the 1st century BC and 800 AD. The National Museum has a large set of fragments of Nazca textiles depicting animals (mainly llamas), fantastic beings, plants, and geometric patterns [37] , which flourished on the northern coast of Peru between the early Christian era and 8th century AD, responsible for building large monuments, temples, pyramids, and ceremonial complexes, represented in the collection by a group of figurative pottery of high artistic and technical quality (zoomorphic, anthropomorphic, and globular vessels) and examples of goldsmithery [39][40] , which inhabited the south-central Andes since the 5th century AD, represented by anthropomorphic ceramic vessels and textile fragments [40] , which arose in the homonymous region of Peru during the 8th century AD, exemplified in the collection through textiles, pottery and metalwork [41] , which flourished on the Valley of the Moche River since the 10th century AD, represented by a group of zoomorphic and anthropomorphic pottery (characteristically dark, obtained through the technique of reducing burning, and inspired by stylistic elements of the Moche and Wari cultures), as well as textiles decorated with varying motifs [42][43] , which developed between the Intermediate and Late periods (from about 1000 to 1470 AD), on the valleys of the rivers Chancay and Chillon, presented in the collection by a set of anthropomorphic pottery (characteristically dark, decorated with light-colored engobe and brown painting) and sophisticated textiles depicting animals and vegetables – namely a large mantle, with three meters of length [28][44] , which flourished around the 13th century AD and became the largest empire of the Pre-Columbian Americas in the following century. The National Museum possesses a set of figurative pottery and vessels decorated with geometric patterns ("Incan aryballos"), miniature figures of human beings and llamas, made with alloys of gold, silver, and copper, miniatures of Inca ceremonial clothing, featherwork, quipus, mantles, tunics, and several other examples of textiles. [45][46]

The collection of Andean mummies of the National Museum allows a glimpse at the funerary practices of the cultures of the region. The mummies of the collection were preserved either naturally (as a result of the favorable geo-climatic conditions of the Andean Mountains) or artificially, in the context of religious and ritualistic practices. Originating from Chiu Chiu, at the Atacama Desert, northern Chile, there is a mummy of a man with an estimated age of 3,400 to 4,700 years, preserved in a seated position, with the head resting on the knees and covered by a wool cap. This was the position which the Atacaman cultures used to sleep, due to the cold climate of the desert. It was also the position in which they were buried, together with their belongings. [47] A second mummy in the collection – an Aymara man, found in the surroundings of Lake Titicaca, between Peru and Bolivia – is preserved in the same position, but involved in a funerary bundle. [48] The collection of mummies also include a boy, donated by the Chilean government, and, illustrating the techniques of artificial mummification of Pre-Columbian cultures, an example of a shrunken head, coming from the Jivaroan peoples of equatorial Amazon, of ritualistic purposes. [38] [49]

Peruvian Moche civilization. Head-shaped ceramic vessel, c. 100 BC–800 AD

Mummy of a Chilean Atacaman man, c. 4700–3400 years before present.

Brazilian archaeology Edit

The collection of Brazilian archaeology of the National Museum brought together a vast set of artifacts produced by the cultures that flourished in the Brazilian territory during the pre-colonial era, with more than 90,000 objects. It was considered the largest collection in its typology worldwide. Gradually assembled since the early 19th century, the collection started being systematically gathered since 1867 and has been continually expanded until the present day, through excavations, acquisitions and donations, also serving as basis for a large number of research projects conducted by the academics of the museum, the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and other institutions. It was composed of objects coming from all regions of Brazil, establishing a timeline spanning more than 10,000 years. [38] [23] [22]

From the oldest inhabitants of the Brazilian territory (horticulturists and hunter-gatherer groups), the museum preserved several artifacts made of stone (flint, quartz and other minerals) and bones, such as projectile points used for hunting, axe blades of polished stone and other tools used for carving, scraping, cleaving, triturating, and piercing, in addition to artifacts of ceremonial use and adornments. Although objects made of wood, fiber, and resin were also produced, the majority of them didn't stand the test of time and are almost absent in the collection, except for some individual pieces – namely a woven straw basket covered by resin, only partially preserved, found in the southern coast of Brazil. [38] [50] [37] [51]

In the segment regarding the Sambaqui people, i.e. the fishing and gathering communities which lived in the south-central coast of Brazil between 8,000 years before present and the early Christian era, the National Museum holds a large number of vestiges originating from deposits constituted of agglomerated lime and organic material – the so-called Sambaquis, or middens. Two fragments of Sambaquis are preserved in the collection, in addition to a group of human skeletal remains found in these archaeological sites, as well as several cultural testimonies of the Sambaqui people, encompassing utilitarian objects used in routine tasks (vessels, bowls, pestles and mortars carved in stone), ceremonies and rituals (such as votive statuettes). Among the highlights of the Sambaqui collection, there is a large set of zoolites (stone sculptures of votive use, with representation of animals, such as fish and birds, and human figures). [38] [37]

The collection included several examples of funerary urns, rattles, dishes, bowls, clothing, dresses, idols, and amulets, with emphasis being placed on ceramic objects, produced by numerous cultures of precolonial Brazil. [38] Best represented groups in the collection include:

    , which flourished on Marajó island, at the mouth of the Amazon River, between the 5th and the 15th centuries, considered the group that reached the highest level of social complexity in precolonial Brazil. The museum has a vast assemblage of Marajoara pottery, notable for their heightened artistic and aesthetic sense, as well as for the variety of shapes and refined decoration – mostly works of figurative nature (representations of humans and animals), combined with rich geometric patterns (compositions imbued with symmetry, rhythmic repetitions, paired elements, binary oppositions, etc.) and with a predominant usage of the excision technique. Major part of the ceramic pieces are of ceremonial nature, used in funerary contexts, rites of passage, etc. Among the highlights, it's possible to mention the anthropomorphic statuettes (particularly the phallus-shaped female figurines, uniting the male and female principles, a recurring theme of the Marajoara art), large-scale funerary urns, anthropomorphic vases with geometric decoration, ritual thongs, zoomorphic, anthropomorphic and hybrid vessels, etc. [52] (or Tapajós culture), which inhabited the region of the Tapajós River in the state of Pará, between the 5th and the 15th centuries, known for their ceramic work of peculiar style and high technical quality, produced with the techniques of modeling, incision, dotted lines, and appliqué, imbued with aesthetic features that suggest the influence of the Mesoamerican civilizations. Among the highlights of the collection were the anthropomorphic statuettes of naturalist style (characterised by the closed eyes, shaped like coffee beans), the anthropomorphic and zoomorphic vessels, vases for ceremonial use and, above all, the so-called "caryatid vases" – complex ceramic vessels, endowed with bottlenecks, reliefs and pedestals decorated with anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines and fantastic beings. The museum also possesses several examples of Muiraquitãs, i.e. small statuettes carved in green gems, shaped like animals (mainly frogs) used as adornments or amulets. [52]
  • Konduri culture, which reached their apex in the 7th century and met their decline in the 15th century, and inhabited the region between the Trombetas and Nhamundá rivers, in Pará. Although this culture kept an intense contact with the Santarém culture, their artistic production developed unique features. The Konduri collection is primarily composed of pottery, noted for the techniques of decoration such as incision and dotted lines, the lively polichromy, and the reliefs with anthropomorphic and zoomorphic motifs. [53]
  • Trombetas River culture, which inhabited the lower Amazon, in the state of Pará, near the region of Santarém. This culture, still largely unknown, was responsible for producing rare artifacts sculpted in polished stone and objects imbued with stylistic elements common to the Mesoamerican cultures. The museum collection preserves lithic artifacts of ceremonial use, as well as anthropomorphic and zoomorphic statuettes (zoolites representing fish and jaguars). [54]
  • Miracanguera culture, which flourished on the left bank of the Amazon river, in the region between Itacoatiara and Manaus, between the 9th and the 15th centuries. The museum preserved several examples of ceremonial pottery, mainly anthropomorphic funerary urns characterized by the presence of bulges, necks, and lids, used to store the ashes of the deceased, and other vessels related to funerary rituals. The Miracanguera pottery is distinguished for the presence of tabatinga layers (clay mixed with organic materials) and the eventual painted decoration of geometric motifs. The plastic composition frequently outlines specific details, such as human figures in a seated position, with the legs represented. [55]
  • Maracá culture, which lived in the region of Amapá between the 15th and the 18th centuries, represented in the collection by a group of typical funerary urns depicting male and female figurines in hierarchic position, with head-shaped lids, as well as zoomorphic funerary urns depicting quadrupedal animals, originating from indigenous cemeteries located in the outskirts of the Maracá River. The Maracá pottery was frequently adorned with geometric patterns and polychromed with white, yellow, red, and black pigments. Ornaments in the members and the head of the figures expressed the social identity of the deceased. [56] , which inhabited the Brazilian coast when the Portuguese arrived in the 16th century – subdivided into the group of the Tupinambá people (in the North, Northeast, and Southeast regions of Brazil) and the group of the Guaraní people (in the South region of Brazil and parts of Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay). The collection is predominantly composed of ceramics and lithic artifacts of daily use (such as pans, bowls, jars, and dishes) or ritual nature (mainly funerary urns). The Tupi-Guaraní pottery is characterized by its distinct polychromy (with predominance of red, black, and white pigments) and drawings of geometric and sinuous patterns. [57]

The National Museum held the oldest known examples of indigenous mummies found in the Brazilian territory. The collection consisted of the body of an adult woman of approximately 25 years of age, and two children, one located at her feet, with an estimated age of twelve months, involved in a bundle, and a new-born, also covered by a mantle, positioned behind the head of the woman. This mummified set is composed of individuals that probably belonged to the group of the Botocudos (or Aimoré) people, of the Macro-Jê branch. They were found at the Caverna da Babilônia, a cavern located in the city of Rio Novo, interior of the state of Minas Gerais, in a farm that belonged to Maria José de Santana, who donated the mummies to emperor Pedro II. As an act of gratitude for this favor, Pedro II awarded Maria José with the title of Baroness of Santana. [58]

Hunter-gatherer groups. Projectile point.

Santarém culture. Muiraquitã in the shape of a frog, 1000–1400 AD

Maracá culture. Anthropomorphic funerary urn, 1000–1500 AD

Historic artwork of the interior

Artwork of an Egyptian sarcophagus

The throne room, on display in preserved rooms in the front wings of the museum

Part of the preserved throne room

Pre-Columbian jars and ceramics

From 2014 the museum faced budget cuts that dropped its maintenance to less than R$ 520,000 annually. The budget was so low, there was US$ 0.01 to spend on each of the artifacts. [59] The building fell into disrepair, evidenced by peeling wall material, exposed electrical wiring, and termite problem. [60] [59] By June 2018, the museum's 200th anniversary, it had reached a state of near-complete abandonment. [61] There was an offer from the World Bank to purchase the museum for US$80 m, which was turned down because the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro would have to give up ownership. [59]

According to the dean of UFRJ Denise Pires de Carvalho, the university does not have the money to pay bills of light delayed since January 2019, of water since 2 years, of security and cleaning services. She also said that although they do not have any more money available, she would seek the release of 20% of the R$43 million released by the parliamentary bench in Rio de Janeiro to continue the reconstruction works of the National Museum. It aims to reopen at least one wing of the palace in 2022, the year of independence bicentennial. [62]

The building was heavily damaged by a large fire which began about 19:30 local time (23:30 UTC) on 2 September 2018. [10] [12] [67]

Although some items were saved, it is believed that 92.5% of its archive of 20 million items were destroyed in the fire, though circa 1.5 million items are stored in a separate building, which were not damaged. [11]

First responders fighting the fire were hindered by a lack of water. Rio's fire chief claimed that two nearby fire hydrants had insufficient water, leaving firefighters to resort to pumping water from a nearby lake. According to a CEDAE (Rio de Janeiro's Water and Sewerage State Company [pt] ) employee, although the hydrants did have water, the water pressure was very low, due to the fact that the building is on top of a hill. [68] [69] Brazilian President Michel Temer claimed the loss due to the fire to be "incalculable." [67]

Background Edit

Museum Deputy Director Luiz Fernando Dias Daniel pointed to neglect by successive governments as a cause of the fire, [70] [71] saying that curators "fought with different governments to get adequate resources to preserve what is now completely destroyed" and that he felt "total dismay and immense anger." [72] The museum lacked a fire sprinkler system, although there were smoke detectors and a few fire extinguishers. [73] [74] The museum did not receive the R$520,000 per year necessary for its maintenance since 2014, and it closed temporarily in 2015 when cleaning and security staff could no longer be paid. Repairs to a popular exhibit hall had to be crowd-funded, and the museum's maintenance budget had been cut by 90 per cent by 2018. [75] There were visible signs of decay before the fire, such as peeling walls and exposed wiring. [76] The museum celebrated its 200th anniversary in June 2018 in a situation of partial abandonment. No state ministers attended the occasion. [72] [77] [78]

Fire Edit

A large fire broke out shortly after the museum closed on 2 September 2018, reaching all three floors of the building. [79] [80] [81] Firefighters were called at 19:30 local time (22:30 UTC) [82] and arrived quickly at the scene. [78] However, the fire chief reported that the two fire hydrants closest to the museum had no water, and trucks had to be sent to a nearby lake. [83] According to the spokesman for the fire department, the fire crews went inside the burning building to rescue artifacts, despite there being no people inside, and they were able to remove items with the help of museum staff. [84] [85]

The fire was out of control by 21:00 (00:00 UTC 3 September), with great flames and occasional explosions, [86] being fought by firefighters from four sectors. [87] Dozens of people went to Quinta da Boa Vista to see the fire. [78] A specialized team of firefighters entered the building at 21:15 to block areas still not hit by the flames and to evaluate the extent of the damage. [88] However, by 21:30, the whole building had been engulfed by the fire, including exhibitions of Imperial rooms that were in the two areas at the front of the main building. The four security guards who were on duty at the museum managed to escape first reports stated that there were no casualties, although a firefighter suffered burns to the fingers while trying to rescue the Luzia's fossil. [87] [89]

Two fire engines were used with turntable ladders, with two water trucks taking turns to supply water. [83] [88] The Brazilian Marine Corps also provided fire engines, water trucks, and a decontamination unit from a nearby base. [90] Pictures on social media showed artifacts being rescued from the burning building by firefighters and civilians. [91]

At 22:00 (01:00 UTC 3 September), dozens of museum employees joined the fight against the flames. Two floors of the building were already destroyed by this time, and the roof had collapsed. [88] Brazilian Culture Minister Sérgio Sá Leitão suggested that it was probably caused by either an electric fault or by a sky lantern accidentally landing on the building. [92]

Damage to collection Edit

A building area of 13,600 square metres (146,000 sq ft) with 122 rooms was destroyed. The building was started in 1803 with luso-lebanese Elie Antun Lubbus. [93] According to museum officials, approximately 92.5 percent of the collection has been destroyed. [94] The building was uninsured. [95]

A spokesman for the fire department reported that pieces had been recovered from the blaze, due to efforts from firefighters and workers from the museum. [96] Information about the condition of pieces that had been displayed started being reported as early as late 2 September, when the images of items had been shared. One of these was a Roman fresco from Pompeii that had survived the eruption of Vesuvius, but was lost in the fire. [97]

Preservation director of the museum João Carlos Nara told reporters that "very little will be left" and that they would "have to wait until the firefighters have completed their work here in order to really assess the scale of it all." [98] The next day, firefighters began more salvage work inside the museum, trying to rescue what they could from beneath the charred remains of the collapsed roof. [99]

The collection relating to indigenous languages is believed to have been completely destroyed, including the recordings since 1958, the chants in all the extinct languages, the Curt Nimuendajú archives (papers, photos, negatives, the original ethnic-historic-linguistic map localizing all the ethnic groups in Brazil, the only extant record from 1945), and the ethnological and archaeological references of all ethnic groups in Brazil since the 16th century. [100] One of the linguistic researchers, Bruna Franchetto, who returned only to see her office as a pile of ash, criticised the fact that a project to back up the collection digitally had only just received funding and barely started, asking for any student who had ever come to the museum to scan or photocopy things for projects to send a copy back. [101]

The fire destroyed the museum's collection of thousands of indigenous artifacts from the country's pre-Columbian Indo-American culture. The items include many indigenous peoples' remains as well as relics amassed in the personal collection of Pedro II. [102] [103] This collection also featured items from present native tribes, including "striking feather art by the Karajá people". There are only about 3,000 Karajá people left. [103]

Indigenous people expressed anger that there was no money given to a museum with indigenous history but "the city had recently managed to find a huge budget to build a brand new Museum of Tomorrow". [72] Cira Gonda also confirmed shortly after the fire that the indigenous linguistics collected had been completely destroyed, and so that original recordings of spoken word and song in dead languages have been lost, as well as other artifacts including those detailing the land and language distribution of tribes in Brazil. [100]

Surviving items Edit

Some items survived the fire. The Bendegó meteorite from the museum's collection of meteorites, which is the biggest iron meteorite ever found in Brazil, was unscathed, due to its inherent fire-resistance. [104] [105] From images and video of salvage after the fire, at least three other meteorites also survived undamaged. [106] [107] Another meteorite called Angra dos Reis was rediscovered among the debris. The meteorite is worth R$ 3 million and was lost in the rubble of the National Museum. With a mass 76 thousand times smaller than that of Bendegó, with mere 65 grams and 4 cm long, Angra dos Reis rock is the most valuable of the collection and was already the object of meteorite hunters. In more than a century of research, this fragment was divided into small portions. The biggest one was buried in the rubble of the museum. [108] [109] Some meteorites were found on 19 October 2018, including the Angra dos Reais, besides, burnt. [110]

In the days following the fire, firefighters recovered several portraits from the upper floor of the museum, which had been burnt, smoke and water damaged but not destroyed. Cristiana Serejo, deputy director of the museum, also said that "part of the zoological collection, the library and some ceramics" had survived. [111] Images were shared of research microscopes, freezers, and specimen jars being collected outside of the building by museum staff during the fire, next to a rusted hydrant. [106] During the fire, part of the Zoology department pulled out mollusks and other marine specimens, and only stopped due to the imminent danger the fire posed. [112] The fire did not reach an annex of the site where vertebrate specimens were kept, but due to a loss of electricity parts of the collection could become damaged. [113]

During the salvage, an intact skull that appeared to be that of Luzia Woman was found, and sent to a nearby scientific laboratory for analysis. [114] Due to other skulls and fragments of bones were discovered in the remains of the building prompting a need for lab testing on the found items. [113] On 19 October 2018, it was announced that the Luzia skull indeed was found however as many fragments, which 80% were identified as being part of the frontal (forehead and nose), side, bones that are more resistant and the fragment of a femur that also belonged to the fossil and was stored. A part of the box where Luiza's skull was, was also recovered. Though the assembly of them was postponed. [115] The bones became white, because the earth along them were burned.

A portion of the museum's collection, specifically the herbarium, and fish and reptile species, was housed elsewhere and has not been affected. [116] There was also a large scientific library within the museum, containing thousands of rare works. People on social media were reported to have found burnt pages from the library in the nearby streets [103] it was later confirmed that the library proper is housed in an adjacent building and was mostly undamaged. [117] Some burnt pages, of unknown origin, were recovered by security guards. Nine Torah scrolls from the 15th century had previously been on display but were in the library at the time and survived. [95]

Reactions Edit

Brazil's president, Michel Temer, said that "the loss of the National Museum is incalculable for Brazil. Today is a tragic day for our country's museology. Two hundred years of work, research and knowledge were lost. The value of our history cannot be measured now, due to the damage to the building that housed the Royal Family during the Empire. It is a sad day for all Brazilians." [72] [118] His statement was echoed by Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella, who called for rebuilding stating: "It's a national obligation to reconstruct it from the ashes, recompose every detail of the paintings and photos. Even if they are not original, they will continue to be a reminder of the royal family that gave us independence, the empire and the first constitution and national unity". [119]

The archaeologist Zahi Hawass says that the tragedy legitimizes the movement for the repatriation of Egyptian objects in museums around the world and that if museums are not able to guarantee the safety and conservation of the objects, the archaeologist argues that to be returned to the native land. Although the collection of the National Museum was not targeted by Egyptian archaeologists, Hawass says that the destruction of the collection strengthens the movement for the repatriation of objects and that UNESCO observes countries with overseas collections and overseas museums to control them, to ensure that objects are properly protected and restored. [120]

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his condolences on Twitter at the event. He offered to send experts to help rebuild the museum. [121]

Brazilian environmentalist and politician Marina Silva called the fire "a lobotomy of the Brazilian memory". [72]

News of the fire quickly spread through the city of Rio de Janeiro, and protesters turned up at the gates in the early hours of Monday morning. Initial reports suggested that there were 500 people, forming a chain around the still-smoking building. [99] Some of the protesters tried to climb over fencing into the museum grounds the police who were called to attend, in full riot gear, threw tear gas bombs into the crowds. The public were later allowed to enter the grounds. [92]

A group of Museum Studies students from the Federal University of the State of Rio de Janeiro called for the public to send in any photographs or videos of the destroyed collections. Their appeal received 14,000 videos, photos, and drawings of the museum's exhibitions within hours. [122]

Cultural institutions Edit

The president of the National Institute of Historic and Artistic Heritage, Kátia Bogéa, said that "It's a national and worldwide tragedy. Everybody can see that this is not a loss for the Brazilian people, but for the whole humanity" and commented that it was "a predictable tragedy, because we've known for a long time that Brazilian cultural heritage has no budget". [118]

Museums around the world sent their condolences. In the UK, the British Library said "our hearts go out to the staff and users of [the National Museum] of Brazil" and called the fire "a reminder of the fragility and preciousness of our shared global heritage" [123] London's Natural History Museum, [124] the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, [125] and the Smithsonian Institution [126] were among other institutions expressing their sorrow. The head of the Australian Museum said that she was "shocked", "devastated", and "distraught". [127] Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities expressed both solidarity with the museum and concern over the status of more than 700 ancient Egyptian artifacts that were housed in the building. It offered to send experts, if requested by the Brazilian government, to assist the National Museum in restoring the damaged pieces. [128]

Salvage efforts Edit

On 12 September 2018, work began to implement a plan to temporarily shelter and work with what is currently the ruins of the museum: [129]

  • Wooden structures, including a metallic wall, completely surrounding the São Cristovão Palace to protect what remains of the building,
  • Containment measures for the building to avoid risk of landslide,
  • An improvised roof to protect against rain water, and containers outside to serve as temporary research laboratory space.

For this plan, the Brazilian government offered R$9 million as an emergency budget which has since been received by the museum. The company, Concrejato, is contracted to reinstall the walls of the building at a cost of R$8,998,075.66. [130] and Unesco says that the reconstruction would take 10 years to get ready. [131] Researchers are recreating 300 parts of the collection of the National Museum, including the skull of Luzia, with 3D printers. The studies are being resumed in a laboratory of the National Institute of Technology (INT), by master's and doctoral students of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. [132]

The museum is still doing some festivals called Museu Nacional Vive or Museum lives to public in tents mounted in front of current under construction improvements to the burned headquarters, with exposition of fossils, living snakes and taxidermied animals like Pterosaurs and Armadillo among others. The museum would do a permanent exposition outside. By some estimates, it would take R$100 million to rebuild the main dependencies. With the exception of a few metal cabinets intact, there are only charred fragments. Around 80% of the roof and 60% of the floors have been affected. The one million euro aid announced by Germany would allow the installation of laboratories for analysis of archaeological finds. [133] [134] [135]

The museum director said there is a collective effort to rebuild the collection, pursue research, and plan the reconstruction of the institution housing six major graduate programs. He reported that classes, thesis defenses and dissertations were resumed and knowledge production did not stop. "The National Museum has lost part of its collection but has not lost the ability to create knowledge and do science," said the director. [136] The social anthropology library, one of the most important in Latin America and totally destroyed by the fire, has received a considerable amount of donations, including the personal library of Rio de Janeiro researcher Gilberto Velho (1945–2012), who was dean of the Department of Anthropology of the museum until his death. Museum zoologists have already gone to the field to collect new specimens in an attempt to repopulate the invertebrate collection, one of the richest (with 5 million copies only in the case of insects) and harder hit by the fire. Before a revamped headquarters is available, Kellner said the museum's intention is to re-display its collection – still considerable – to the public. There is a collective funding campaign to allow the institution's loan back to schools and the plan to revitalize the museum's botanical garden so that it houses a small exhibition that would receive visitors again. "It would be an illusion, even a frivolous thing, to say that the old collection will be reconstituted, but we will continue to fulfill our role," said the director. [137] It was also informed they plan to keep part of ruins as historical exposition with a high modern structure of equipment inside.

According to UFJR dean Roberto Leher, the facade and the exterior of the National Museum is to be preserved in the reconstruction works, but the building could be different. The recovery of the building will take into account a new concept of architecture. The cost would still depend on the concept of the museum. Technicians focus are on 3D modeling and a term of reference. New materials with low-carbon, energy-less, environmentally friendly will be used because it is a science museum. IPHAN has endorsed (since the property is overturned) to do the reconstruction taking this model into account. [138] The new project could be with high roof space or with more slabs, depending the approval of R$100 million or € 22,610,000,00 in the budget of 2019. [139]

On 7 May 2019, the museum presented 27 small pieces found of Egypt collection. The current director took the chance to ask for more money, a minimum of R$1 million to guarantee his services further. [140] On 14 May 2019, the statue of the Bés god about 2,350 years old was found. The piece in rock and glass paste was one of the highlights of the collection. [141]

The roof was finished on 8 June 2019, nine months after the fire. It is 23 m high sustained by 42 truss tower pillars with 30 thousand steel bars and 147 tons of total weight. [142]

Cooperation agreement with the Italian government provides for restoration of damaged parts and long-term loan of Italian parts that would be displayed in the National Museum when it is ready for reopening. Until then, the exhibition would be installed in the Sala Roma of the Consulate General of Italy, in the Center of Rio de Janeiro. The Italian Ministry of Culture would collaborate in the restoration of a Koré, an important Greek female statue, which was found in 1853 in a tomb in Italy, in which Empress Teresa of Bourbon brought dowry of her marriage to Emperor Pedro II of Brazil. [143] However, the director denied to borrow pieces. Instead, he prefers money donations, which is denied by Italian and French governments. Samba Mangueira and Chico Buarque tries with music to help the museum in some way. [144] [145]

During the signing of a protocol of intent for technical-scientific cooperation with the Brazilian Institute of Museums (Ibram), held on 14 May 2019, it was reported that the works of restoration of the patrimony would be initiated in 2019, with an elaborated executive project of the reconstruction of the facades and of the roof, with an endowment of R$1 million. Paulo Amaral, president of Ibram, said that the new concept of the National Museum would probably be announced in April 2020, when the final formatting of the space would be defined, with parts dedicated to the historical collection, contemporary works and equipment. [146] [147]

On the first floor of the building was the Francisca Keller Library, which had the largest collection of anthropology and human sciences in South America. To speed up the fundraising process, they are making a crowdfunding campaign on the Benfeitoria platform. The money would be used for the demolition of the interior walls of the space, restoring the floor, finishing and painting, laying the ceiling, making the electrical and air conditioning installation and the restoration of hardware. They expect to get R$129,000 by 12 September 2019. [146] [148]

The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, responsible for the museum, signed on Saturday 31 August 2019 a memorandum of understanding with the Vale Foundation, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the BNDES to create a governance steering committee that can lead the museum's recovery project. Vale provides R$50 million and BNDES R$21.7 million for this reconstruction. [149] The Ministry of Education had allocated R$16 million to the National Museum. Of this total, R$8.9 million was used in emergency works, and the rest for facade and roof projects. The Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations and Communications contributed R$10 million to acquire equipment for scientific research and infrastructure actions. Germany had donated 230,000 euros so far. [150] After 1 year since the destruction, 44% of the museum's collections had been saved. More than 50 of the 70 areas hit by the fire were searched.

Reconstruction of the facade and roof is expected to take place between the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. In the first half of 2020, the salvage of parts of the collection and the start of the inventory process are expected to be completed. R$69 million in public funds for the project. The amount is composed of R$21 million from BNDES (R$3.3 million of which have already been released), R$43 million from the amendment of the Rio de Janeiro bench in the Chamber of Deputies and R$5 million from the Ministry Education. [151]

On 3 October 2019, the museum has about 120 million reais available to make works, coming from funds from parliamentary amendments, the BNDES and Vale. But, the money cannot be used to buy the material needed to continue the rescue, only in the works. In the box of the Association Friends of the National Museum, there are 80 thousand reais in cash, coming from donations, but only R$25 thousand are not yet committed. The Rio de Janeiro Legislative Assembly (Alerj) donated R$20 million to help in the works. Funding are available as project steps are completed. [152]

  • The German Foreign Ministry has offered €1 million in aid to rebuild Brazil's National Museum. This amount was used to buy container-laboratories to investigate specimens. Those equipment were to be located in a donated field nearby Maracanã Stadium. [153] From the initial amount announced, R$180 thousand was delivered. On 21 May 2019 the Director travelled to Germany and France to ask for the rest and more help, because Brazil Government seems not possible to financially further help. [154] From Germany, the second amount of €145 thousand or R$654 thousand was donated.
  • Each of 140 geoparks of UNESCO's conservation areas will collect and send a lithic, fossil, or cultural artifact to Brazil. This means 140 objects would complement the future collection. [155]
  • On 17 October 2018, Secretary of the Patrimony of the Union, Sidrack Correia confirmed the donation of the area of 49,300 m², that is about a kilometer from the museum, to install laboratories containers in 45 days, budgeted at R$2.2 million, purchased with funds from the TJRJ Pecunary Penalty Fund to be used by museum researchers. It also serves as a center for students visitation. Part of the total, 10 thousand square meters will be for the Justice Court to install its transport area. [156]
  • The National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), linked to the Ministry of Industry, Foreign Trade and Services (MDIC), concluded on 17 October 2018 the donation of 1,164 items, mostly mobile, to the National Museum. The furniture, which includes tables, chairs, workstations, drawers and cabinets, aid in the restructuring of the Museum. The idea of the donation came from the need for the institute to free itself of idle equipment that was in its old headquarters, in Edifício A Noite, located in Praça Mauá, the port area of Rio de Janeiro, to allow the return of the property to the Secretariat of the Patrimony of the Union (SPU), which should have been empty. Part of the furniture was taken to the Botanical Garden of the National Museum, located in Quinta da Boa Vista, where some sectors are working. Others will be used in the direction of the museum, in the services of museology and teaching assistance, and in the departments of invertebrates, geology, paleontology, entomology and ethnology. [157]
  • On 24 October 2018, a farmer from Cuiabá donates 780 old Brazilian coins at an average value of R$5 thousand to Rio de Janeiro National Museum. [158] More than R$100 thousand was donated in campaign to museum.
  • On 13 November 2018, the Universidade Estadual do Pará donated 514 insects to the Museum, 314 were borrowed from there. Among them were grasshoppers. [159][160]
  • On 25 May 2019, Nuuvem, largest gaming platform in Latin America, donated R$16,860 to the National Museum. The two-day income from the game "The Hero's Legend" was reverted to the museum and 500 gamers engaged in the action. The inspiration came from an initiative that Ubisoft created for the game "Assassin's Creed" for the reconstruction of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. [161]
  • Until June 2019, the small donations from several private individuals summed R$323 thousand. [162]
  • The British Council donated R$150 thousand for educational exchange. [162]
  • The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew would donate in 2020 a collection of relics collected in the Amazon, stored in the British institution for over 150 years. The items were grouped by botanist Richard Spruce, who spent 15 years gathering specimens and making notes while travelling through the forest and brought to Queen Victoria ceremonial tools and objects used by indigenous tribes in the region. His collection, later stored in the Kew Gardens archives, also includes wooden baskets and graters, trumpets, rattles, and ritual headdresses. [163]
  • Wilson Saviano, professor at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, donated 300 pieces, 15 paintings and 40 books from his private collection of contemporary African art. [164]
  • Books: In entomology, it had 20 donations that would give about 23,000 items, it was certainly one of the areas that suffered the most. In vertebrates, more than 500 specimens from various areas of Brazil were donated. In geology and paleontology, it had assets seized by the IRS that were destined for the National Museum. Kellner points out that the Francisca Keller Library of the Graduate Program in Social Anthropology, which had 37,000 documents and books and was fully incinerated, is already being rebuilt. About 10,500 volumes had been donated, and another 8,000 were on the way. From France is approximately 700 kilos. At the Central Library the donation of several other books, over 170 kilos. [165]

The director of the National Museum, Alexander W. A. Kellner, issued an open letter addressed to presidential candidates Jair Messias Bolsonaro and Fernando Haddad on the evening of 15 October 2018, which, along two pages, reinforces the historical importance of the institution, and recalls that his survival is tied to the responsibility of those who hold "power in the hands." [166]

The document was also sent to the National Congress, where he had regularly gone to ask for a public hearing, during which he asked for the inclusion of resources for the museum, and for the next budget. Without these resources, he says the institution will end up harming decades of research.

In the letter, the director says that many reflect on what could have been done differently to avoid a disaster that led to the loss of an invaluable patrimony, involving millions of cultural and scientific pieces. He also adds that "others should be deeply reflecting on why, being in a position of decision, they did not act firmly in triggering actions that would have avoided the absurdity of that loss".

On 17 October 2018, the Director of the Museum had a meeting with federal deputies to first resolve the R$50 million needed to reinstall the front part of Palace. [167] In late October 2018, the museum's director attended an audience in Brasília at the Chamber of Deputies in order to secure R$56 million for the basic reconstruction of the front part of main building, No. 1, including the facade, roof and its structure. He negotiated the money before the President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, being afraid that the building would remain destroyed for years in an abandoned state. Also, the laboratory containers were not received. [168] On 31 October 2018, the Chamber of Deputies approved an amendment of R$55 million to the budget of 2019. This would need to be further approved by a joint committee and also by the plenary. [169] The Director travelled to China to guarantee pieces of collections for the museum. During his travel to (Germany), specifically Berlin, Munich and Paris, France to bargain some money, the amount of R$55 million, supposed to reconstruct some part of building was reduced to R$43 million by Government. [170] However the Louvre Museum could lend some Egyptian pieces to be displayed in Rio de Janeiro, when its reconstruction comes done. From this sum, until June 2019, Education Ministry or Ministério da Educação (MEC) paid R$908.800,00 for the facade project. [162]

A proposal by Senator Maria do Carmo Alves (DEM-SE) under review in the Commission of Education, Culture and Sport proposes to include a National Day of the Museum, in the official Brazilian calendar to be celebrated on 18 May. [171]

Until December 2018, the concern was the change of the Brazilian Government, because none of the transition teams of the future Governor of Rio de Janeiro, nor the President of the Republic Jair Messias Bolsonaro have sought the direction of the museum to talk about the disaster that hit the former Residence of the Imperial Family. Even then, the containers to store restored objects, until the reconstruction work is completed, had not yet been delivered by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, which did not express its opinion on the delay. [172]

During the three months after the fire debris was removed, the "economic support network" promised by the president was not established. The partnership to help the museum would count on the participation of the Brazilian Federation of Banks (Febraban), Petrobrás, Bradesco, Itaú, Santander, Caixa, Banco do Brasil, BNDES and Vale. According to the entity, the banks are awaiting approval of Provisional Measure 851 in the National Congress to be able to make the donations. The text must be approved by Congress until February 2019. If this does not happen, the Provisional Measure loses its validity. "The first disbursement of the contract between the BNDES, the Association of Friends of the National Museum and UFRJ, with a total execution period of four years, was scheduled for October 2018 of R$ 3 million."

In June 2018, when the National Museum completed 200 years, the BNDES signed a R$21.7 million contract to pay for the update of the building, but before the first transfer of R$3 million, it caught fire. The agreement was maintained, and the BNDES promised that the money would be used to support the reconstruction works. That was not done. Until final of 2018, only R$8.9 million was released to carry out emergency works for the reconstruction of the building. [173]

The Ministry of Education (MEC) gave R$5 million to a second phase of elaboration of recovery project of the Museum. Unesco personnel and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited the debris. Another R$2.5 million was allocated to the research of the institution through the Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Capes). [174]

1,500 items were found among the rubble, between parts of the collection, equipment, personal property and others not unidentifiable. Among them were pieces from the Egyptian collection and minerals from the Werner collection, that came to Brazil along with the Portuguese Crown, as well as pre-Columbian ceramics.

A partnership with Google Brasil, through Google Arts & Culture, allowed guided virtual tours via internet of 160 items from the collections in 2016. [175] [176]

The J. Paul Getty Museum

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Attic Black-Figure Neck Amphora

Leagros Group (Greek (Attic), active 525 - 500 B.C.) 41 × 26.5 cm (16 1/8 × 10 7/16 in.) 86.AE.82

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Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 103, Athenian Vases

Alternate Views

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Left profile

Right profile

3/4 from above at front

3/4 from above at back

Object Details


Attic Black-Figure Neck Amphora


Attributed to Leagros Group (Greek (Attic), active 525 - 500 B.C.)


Athens, Greece (Place Created)

Object Number:

41 × 26.5 cm (16 1/8 × 10 7/16 in.)


Inscriptions on body, side A: ΠETEΛEUΧ (nonsense?) A[Φ]ΡΟΔITE KALE ("beautiful Aphrodite") ANΧIΣI (retrograde) ("Anchises") AINEA : KAΛOΣ ("Aeneas: beautiful"). On neck, side A: to the charioteer's left, MEΧTEETΣ between head of the charioteer and horses' heads, ΛEBIT[.]ΔEΣ at horses' right, ΧTΡTO[.]N. All three appear to be nonsense. On neck, side B, behind old man's back, MUΧTAEN between warrior's and woman's heads, [..]EΧT, and below ΥΧΣ [..] All three appear to be nonsense. Behind woman, 7-8 letters, difficult to decipher.

Alternate Title:

Storage Jar with Aeneas and Anchises (Display Title)

Object Type:
Object Description

For the Greeks, the mythical Trojan War was the central event in their early history. Episodes from the conflict fill Greek art and literature, and a scene from the culmination of the battle, the sack of Troy, decorates the front of this Athenian black-figure neck-amphora. The Trojan hero Aeneas has lifted his aged father Anchises onto his back in order to carry him to safety. They are preceded by Aeneas's young son. Behind them, the goddess Aphrodite, who had once been Anchises' lover and is Aeneas's mother, gestures in grief and sympathy. The painter who decorated this vase labeled Aphrodite, Aeneas, and Anchises, adding a popular formulaic comment on their beauty, but he also added a variety of nonsense inscriptions--combinations of letters with no apparent meaning--to this scene and others on the vase.

On the neck, a charioteer rides in a four-horse chariot (quadriga), while on the reverse, a warrior departs for – or maybe returns from – battle with his dog. An elderly man, marked by his white hair, gestures before him, and a woman, perhaps his mother or wife, watches from the right. On the reverse of the body, Dionysos, the god of wine, carries a kantharos or drinking cup, between two satyrs, his part-horse, part-human companions. The satyr on the right appears to dance to the music of aulos (double pipes) played by his counterpart.

1965 - 1983

Walter Bareiss, American, born Germany, 1919 - 2007 and Molly Bareiss, American, 1920 - 2006 (Stamford, Connecticut), distributed to the Mary S. Bareiss 1983 Trust, 1983.