Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2002.11.11

John Falconer, Thomas Mannack, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, Winchester College, Great Britain fasc. 19.   London:  The British Academy, Oxford University Press, 2002.  Pp. 26, pls. 16.  ISBN 0-19-726257-0.  $72.00.  

Contributors: photographs by Robert L. Wilkins and Ian Cartwright

Reviewed by Mario Iozzo and Jenifer Neils ( and (respectively))
Word count: 924 words

Founded during the reign of Richard II, the English public school Winchester College acquired its first classical vases between 1894 and 1897, when its Museum, now housed in the medieval beer cellar, opened. Best known for the Attic red-figure kylix by its eponymous painter, this collection comprises 88 vases and fragments, mostly unpublished until now. The majority are Attic (39), with an almost equal number of Corinthian (12), South Italian (13), and Cypriot (12), eleven of which were a gift from the British Museum and thought to have been excavated in Amathus by A.S. Murray in 1893-94. Other fabrics represented in the collection include Minoan (1), Mycenaean (4), Boeotian (3), East Greek (2), and Etruscan (2). Although the bulk of the vases were purchased in Athens, a number of them have distinguished provenances (Forman, Towneley, Canino). Unfortunately in the early 1960s fifteen vases "went missing" and to date only one, an Attic red-figure lekythos attributed to the Aischines Painter, has been recovered.

Although not outstanding for its draftsmanship, the most important work in the collection is the name-vase of the Winchester Painter, which was given to the college by a housemaster in the early twentieth century. A palmette-eye cup, it depicts nude athletes with halteres on the exterior and on the interior an unusual satyr carrying an oinochoe and a thyrsos, the usual attribute of maenads. Given its importance, this cup merits more than four small views on half of a plate. The reader would also have welcomed discussion of the particular stylistic traits of this painter as well as some references to the vast bibliography on iconographical problems of Dionysiac scenes. A citation of the Forman sale catalogue of 1899 would also have been useful.

Among the Attic black-figure cups are two interesting eye kylixes and two skyphoi of the Heron Class. One skyphos, attributed to the Theseus Painter, features four women riding goats, while the other shows what might be two sequential scenes of boxing. The women are probably maenads, as discussed in S. Moraw's monograph (1998).1 One of the eye cups, also by the Theseus Painter, depicts symposiasts between the eyes and in the tondo a running Herakles, whose pose has been slightly misunderstood by the authors. The other eye-cup with maenads and a gorgoneion is clearly assigned by Beazley to his Group of Walters 48.42, although the authors fail to cite this specific attribution, assigning it instead to the wider Krokotos Workshop, a broad designation not normally utilized by scholars. A rare vase is the unattributed black-figured kalpis of ca. 500 B.C. with a panel on the shoulder. It depicts the capture of Kerberos by Herakles in the presence of a helmet-holding Athena, Hermes, and Persephone, a scene and format more common in red-figure. The incised ligature on the underside of the foot is drawn, but no effort is made to identify this graffito in Alan Johnston's classic reference work where it corresponds to Type 5D.2

After the Winchester Painter, the best known artist included in this collection is the Berlin Painter, whose work is represented by a tantalizing fragment. From the upper part of a calyx-krater it preserves the typically heavy-chinned, filleted head of Nike in profile to the right. Other Attic red-figure vases of note are a kylix attributed to the Wedding Painter, two Type IV oinochoai, a kalpis and a pelike by the Washing Painter, and a pyxis. The first shows a male courting scene in the tondo and on the exterior sides two possibly sequential scenes of a youth handing over a lekythos to a woman in the presence of another youth. Of the two oinochoai the one showing a rearing griffin confronting a rearing horse is apparently unique in terms of its imagery. The so-called "domestic" scene on the Washing Painter's kalpis involves a nude hetaira and Eros with an alabastron. The unattributed pyxis depicts five women in what could be a sanctuary or household shrine, since it includes an altar and an Ionic column. Two of the women may be spinning, one flees to the altar, and the scene is populated with domestic pets, a bird and a long-eared hare.

An interesting group of four white-ground funerary lekythoi from Eretria rounds out the Attic fine wares. Of particular interest is a polychrome lekythos with an acanthus-bedecked grave stele covered with red and green fillets. Most of the Corinthian vases are from Greece, with four from Corinth itself, and many have been previously published in Payne's Necrocorinthia (Oxford 1931). A lively Etruscan black-figure neck-amphora attributed by Beazley to the Orvieto Group satyr depicts a frontal helmeted head on one side and a hore-hooved knielauf satyr on the other. Also of interest are a Fikellura amphora from Ialysos and an unusual Boeotian ram's head aryballos.

Throughout this spare volume there is a lack of attention to issues of iconography, consideration of shape, analysis of style, and discussion of inscriptions, in contrast to what has become the norm in more recent CVAs. Also missing are references to recent monographs on painters, shapes, excavated material such as that of the Athenian Agora, and iconography with the exception of LIMC. Although this is the slimmest CVA ever published, we thought it appropriate that its two authors and two photographers have two reviewers. However, it is very worthwhile to have these vases in the public domain, and this volume at long last fulfills the hope for a CVA expressed by Winchester College's headmaster from 1946 to 1959, Sir Walter Oakeshott, and his wife Noël, for whom Beazley named a painter.


1.   For maenads riding goats see S. Moraw, Die Mänade in der attischen Vasenmalerei des 6. und 5. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. (Mainz 1998) 168-69.
2.   A. Johnston, Trademarks on Greek Vases (Warminster 1979).

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