Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005.10.10

Berthold Fellmann, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, Deutschland 77, München Antikensammlungen, 13.   Munich:  C.H. Beck, 2005.  Pp. 139; color plates 4, b/w plates 80, ills. plates 32, text photograph 1.  ISBN 3-406-519-601.  €88.00.  

Reviewed by Michael M. Eisman, Temple University (
Word count: 1623 words

One can only imagine the weight of responsibility that Berthold Fellmann (hereafter F) felt as he produced this fascicule of the CVA containing the best-known black-figure (hereafter BF) vase, the Exekias eye-cup with Dionysos at sea. Whatever he felt, the publication of this vase and the other 91 bf eye-cups and fragments of bf eye-cups is first rate. In keeping with current trends, text and visual material are bound together and printed on both sides of the page on heavy glossy paper.

The publication is careful, detailed and well-produced. In short, it does in extraordinary fashion what a CVA is supposed to do. Except for five pieces, every vase here has been cleaned and restored since 1993, most in the years 1996-1998. Twenty-three "new" vases have been reconstructed from fragments pieced together in the depot (numbers 9653-9675). Photographs are clear, with details easily seen. There are a generous number of detailed photographs. A typical example: Munich 2050, the name piece of the Painter of Munich 2050 (ABV 206,8), has an eye level photograph showing the profile reproduced at scale of 1:3 (no. 1), clear photographs of sides A and B (nos. 2 and 4), a detail of the handle area (no. 3), a detail of the gorgoneion in the tondo (no. 5), a view of the entire vase from the bottom showing the entire decorative scheme (no. 6) and a complete view of the interior (no. 7). To this is added a profile drawing printed at scale of 1:1 (Beilage 7,4). Special notice should be made not only of the new profile drawings but of the earlier museum photographs and earlier profile drawings of 18 vases which did exist as complete or near complete vases before World War II and now are only partially preserved fragments. If all this were not enough there are four color plates with three photographs of 8729 (Exekias cup), two of 2080 (Lysippides Painter), two details of 2030 and one each of 2052 (Group of Walters 48.42) and 2019 (Chalcidizing cup).

Vases are presented in order of shape: Type A (65), with Nikosthenic foot (5), Chalcidizing (4), Type B (1), Type C without stem (12); there are four vases with various difficulties of classification. A brief discussion of each type and bibliography precede the relevant entries.1 A similar entry is given for each painter, painter group or class. Each vase entry gives current and past catalogue numbers and history including Jahn number,2 provenance and accession data. This is followed by measurements which include not only height, diameter, height and diameter of the foot but also volume and weight. Then follows the bibliography, starting with the Beazley references and then listed chronologically. The material on the condition of the vase is unusually detailed. Given the damage to the collection in World War II and the efforts at reassembly and reconstruction, this is especially important. Next the form is given, followed by the decorative schema. Then comes the expected detailed description of A, B and the interior, dipinti and graffiti where appropriate, added color, date and attribution and commentary. All of this is straightforward but it should be noted that the material here is much more detailed that the usual CVA entries.

The text is completed with a series of indexes that are particularly useful: 1. Subjects, 2. Inscriptions, 3. Provenance and Accession, 4. Potters, Painters, Groups and Classes, 5. Volume and Weight, 6. Technical Matters, and 7. Concordance with Jahn.

In short, this is the next best thing to being in the museum with the vase on a table in front of you with the catalogue card at your side. In this it completely fulfills the goals of the Corpus.

There are some CVA fascicules produced in the 1980's that turned entries into extended essays on the vases. That is not the case here. Commentary is primarily restricted to looking for parallels and only occasionally discusses problems of iconographical identification. Even here F prefers to indicate the choices rather than argue for an individual interpretation. The commentary is accordingly "lean" and at no time is the text adventurous. Normally this would be considered a virtue but one can be overly cautious. Thus Pl. 48.6 (2056) is said to be by the same hand as Copenhagen 8756 but no further effort at attribution is made. Pl. 57 (2048) and Pl. 58 (2069) have parallels that seem to either cry out for an attribution or an explanation as to why none is forthcoming.

There are several areas where more detailed discussion might have been helpful. First, in making comparisons, F generally cites other eye-cups, which is normal and expected. However, if F had gone a little further afield and given more consideration to other shapes, especially small shapes such as mastoid cups and kyathoi, he would have found many parallels that might have led to further attributions. Thus the panthers on Pl. 19 (9661) are very close to those Group of Vatican G57 which is part of the Nikosthenic workshop.3

Second, F uncritically accepts the meaning of "epoiesen" as the potter. Yet, as has been pointed out, there is no real evidence for this and it very well may have been that epoiesen should be the owner of the workshop.4 In the case of Exekias, if he was the owner and painted the vases signed "egrapsen" but did not necessarily pot these vases, it would explain why the painting is so extraordinary on the Exekias vases even though they are not particularly unusual in shape (though well-made). The Munich eye-cup (Pl. 1 ff, 8729) interestingly does not have an "egrapsen" signature but an "epoiesen" signature on the foot. In this regard one may question von Bothmer's comment quoted by Jordan and repeated in the commentary that the Callimanopoulos cup (Met. L 1981.145) may have been potted by Exekias and painted by a member of Group E and thus be an earlier Exekian eye cup than the Munich cup.5 Exekias may not have potted or painted it but owned the workshop, set out the design, and supervised its production. To avoid confusion it should be noted that, based on "egrapsen" signatures on other vases, there is no question that the Munich eye-cup is painted by Exekias.

Third, the question of workshop affiliation is also raised by the cup attributed to the Lysippides Painter (Pl. 10 ff, 2080). It is recognized that he worked for Andokides, and we have the series of bilinguals to direct our attention in this direction.6 But there are very few cups from the Andokides workshop, and it may well be that Lysippides Painter was working for Nikosthenes when Munich 2080 (pl. 10) was painted.7

Further most of these eye-cups can be associated with either the Nikosthenic workshop or the Krokotos Group. With these vases brought together here and with an examination the profile drawings, is it apparent that there is a uniformity of potting. This and the great similarity in the gorgoneion tondos, regardless of whether they are Nikosthenic or Krokotean, strongly suggest that they all come out of one workshop.7

A note on the relationship of the Chalcidizing cups to the Nikosthenic workshop would also have been useful for those entries. F notes Nikosthenic and Kokotean connections for many of these cups in his comments without making attributions. My suggestion that a high proportion of the Munich eye cups come from the Nikosthenic workshop should not particularly surprising since most of the vases come from Vulci in the first part of the 19th century. The Nikosthenic trade connections with the central Etruscan cities including Vulci, are particularly strong. I would see Nikosthenic connections to the following vases (with F's attributions and classifications noted):

General Nikosthenic: Pl 4.8 (8056/117); Pl. 5 (9653); Pl. 8,4 (9655); Pl. 9.3 (2029) attributed ABV 230.4 accepted by F; Pl. 10 (2080) see Jordan above; Pl. 12 (2030); Pl. 13 (2033) based on dolphins; Pl. 18 (2028; Pl. 19 (9661) on panthers see above; Pl. 41 (2058); CHC Group: Pl. 50 (9656); Pl 53.1 (9668); Pl. 54.7 (2065) near Pittsburgh Painter, F rejects the attribution; Pl. 56.1 (9675) F attributes to near Pittsburgh Painter; Pl. 59 (2079). Nikosthenic foot: Pl 62.4 (2088); Pl. 64 (2087); Pl. 65 (2089); Pl. 66 (2090), attributed to the Essen Group, ABV 631,4; Pl. 73,1 (2094).

Chalkidizing cups: Pls. 67-71 (in order of presentation: 9659, 2018, 9662, 2019, 2091, 2027, 9663).

Krokotos Group by Ure; connections to Krokotos Group: Pl 27 (2032), Pl. 28 (2066), Pl. 30 (2046); Pl 29 (2084), Pl. 35 (2081); Pl. 31 (2085); Pl. 32.4 (2064); Pl. 36 (2055) recalls Theseus Painter; Pl. 37 (Munich/Erlangen M1151); Pl 42 (2059) because of gorgoneion; Pl. 48 (2056); Pl. 52 (2083) Viginia Painter, Paralipomena 99;

Painter of Munich 2050 (Krokotos): Pl. 23 (2052);

Group of Walters 48.42 (Krokotos): Pl. 24 (2052); Pl. 25, 1 (2053); Pl. 25.7 (2051); Pl. 34 (2054); Pl. 26? (2082); Pl. 45 (2057); Pl. 46 (2063); Pl. 21 (2049).

Leafless Group: Pl. 39 (2076); Pl 40 (2062); Pl. 44.9 (2047); Pl. 47 (2077). Painter of Louvre F120: Pl. 56.3 (2067), attribution by F; Pl. 57 ( 2048); Pl. 58 (2069); Pl. 60 (Munich/Erlangen 1042); Pl. 61 (2078); and Pl. 62.1 (2068), the last three attributed by F. Campana Painter: Pl. 72 (2092) attribution by F.

Class of Top-band Stemless (all classified by F): Pl. 53.6 (2061); Pl. 75.1 (2021); Pl. 75.7 (9669); Pl. 76.1 (9670); Pl. 76.6 (2057); Pl. 77.1 (2023); Pl. 77.7 (9667); Pl. 78.1 (9674); Pl. 78.7 (9665); Pl. 79.1 (9672); Pl. 79.2 (9673); Pl. 80.1 (9666); Pl 80.6 (9671).8

None of these comments would have been possible without the excellent work of F and the team of restorers, photographers, and artists, for which scholars both present and future will be grateful.


1.   These are based on H. Bloesch, Formen attischer Schalen von Exekias bis zum Ende des strengen Stils (1940). Readers will find a convenient English description of these types in Mary B. Moore and Mary Z. Philippides, Attic Black-Figured Pottery, The Athenian Agora, vol. XXII, 1986, 66-68.
2.   O. Jahn, Beschreibung des Vasensammlung König Ludwigs in der Pinakothek zu München, 1854.
3.   See M. M. Eisman, Attic Kyathos Painters, diss.U. of Penn.1971 University Microfilms) nos. 72 (I..K. Raubitschek, The Hearst Hillsborough Vases, 1970, no. 11), 105 (Paris, Louvre CA 3309, AJA,77 (1973) 72), and 113 (Munich 1986, Paralipomena 305, 4b).
4.   R. M. Cook, JHS 91 (1971) 137, Robertson, JHS 92 (1972) 180-183, Eisman, JHS 94 (1974), 172.
5.   Beth Cohen, Attic Bilingual Vases and Their Painters, 1978.
6.   This is suggested by the comments of J. A. Jordan, Attic Black-figured Eye Cups, diss. New York University, 1988 University Microfilms.
7.   M.M. Eisman, "Are Eyes Apotropaic?" AIA Annual Meeting, Summary of Papers, 1974.
8.   This list suggests that the minimalist position about the Nikosthenic workshop taken by V. Tosto, The Black-figure Pottery Signed ΝΙΚΟΣΘΕΝΕΣ ΕΠΟΙΕΣΕΝ and R. Osborne, "Workshops and the iconography and distribution of Athenian red-figure pottery: a case study," in Simon Kay and Stephanie Moser (eds), Greek Art in View, 2004, pp. 78-94, (see my review BMCR 2005.08.14), and not contradicted by F is unwarranted.

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