Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2006.03.36

Norbert Kunisch, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, Deutschland, fascicule 79, Bochum, Kunstsammlungen der Ruhr Universität, Band 1.   Munich:  C. H. Beck, 2005.  Pp. 76; figs. 27, Beilagen 17; pls. 59.  ISBN 3-406-53754-5.  €88.00.  

Reviewed by Mary B. Moore, Hunter College of the City University of New York (
Word count: 2130 words

I always look forward to new CVAs from Germany, because they never disappoint, and the first fascicule of the Bochum University collection is no exception. It presents 92 vases which comprise the Mycenean, Attic Geometric and Attic black-figured material (future fascicules will contain the Attic red-figured vases as well as the non-Attic and the black glaze). This is a collection rich in variety of shape, artist and iconography.

The author describes the history of the collection, noting it is among the newest in German universities and the most important one in the industrial region between Ruhr and Emscher. A large part (not just the vases) belonged to Karl Welz (1887-1964), a learned man who planned an Institute for Classical Antiquity in Fulda but did not live to see his dream happen; except for his coins, all of his collection came to Bochum. Antiquities acquired by Julius Funcke (1897-1976), scion of a mercantile family, form the other sizable part of the museum's holdings of Greek vases. Funcke's wide travels in the Mediterranean fostered a love for the art and culture of its countries, and later he studied art and archaeology at Bonn. His passion for collecting vases began in 1960 with the purchase of a Nolan amphora by the Achilles Painter that will appear in the next fascicule. Funcke gave his collection to the museum so it would be available to the public.

Each vase is meticulously described. Measurements are generous, even including capacity which was calculated by filling the vessels with styrofoam pellets. Details of condition, shape and ornament are noted and great attention is given to descriptions of the figural scenes. Many vases were previously attributed by various scholars; for others, Kunisch offers his own; some await identification. The comparanda are up to date, but it is here that the reviewer has an issue. Quite often, Kunisch does not cite the locations and accession numbers of the vases in his comparanda, but just gives a publication for each (see p. 28 and p. 32 which may stand for other examples). Often the Beazley references are omitted or incomplete (see, e.g., p. 38 where no references to Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters [hereafter ABV] or to Paralipomena appear). In a CVA, this reviewer thinks it is important to cite all the pertinent Beazley references when any attributed vase is mentioned and to add any publications subsequent to Addenda (1989). Beazley's books are basic bibliographical references. These shortcuts save space and reduce printing costs, but they are irritating to the reader who then has to consult the publication to see what vase the author refers to. Graffiti and inscriptions are drawn at a scale of 1:1. Profiles appear in the Beilagen. The text concludes with very useful indices (pp. 71-76): concordance between inventory numbers, plates and Beilagen; previous owners; capacity; technical considerations; subjects; inscriptions, graffiti and dipinti; painters, potters and workshops. The quality of the plates is excellent, with many good details that complement the descriptions, and the layout is as generous as one could hope for.

The text begins with the Mycenean material, which consists of stirrup jars, an alabastron, a bottle, an oinochoe and a high-stemmed cup -- a nice variety. Drawings of the decoration made by the author accompany the text. Next come the Geometric vases, including a handsome MG I belly-handled amphora with metope decoration (S 1078, pls. 4; 5,1) and an MG II neck-amphora with an odd narrow metope on its neck (S 1215, pls. 5,4; 6, 1-2). There is a good-sized LG II pitcher attributed to the Birdseed Painter, who gets his name from rows of birds who seem to be spitting out seeds (S 466, pls. 6,5; 7,1-2). On this vase, they stand on the back of a tethered horse. In the comparanda (p. 21), Kunisch makes some new additions to this workshop. Dancers accompanied by a phorminx-player decorate the neck of a lidded oinochoe attributed to the Rattle Group (S 1066, pls. 8,1-4; 9, 1-4). Below the instrument, there is an odd-shaped arrangement that Kunisch thinks is simply a vertical row of tangential circles with dots for filling ornament. This may be so, but above them there is something that this chain may have supported (glaze below the arm of the phorminx -- see fig. 5 on p. 22). Perhaps the artist intended this to be an object standing on the ground. The centerpiece of this section is the hydria attributed to the Analatos Painter, who was one of the first artists to break with the restrictive Geometric idiom and invent a freer, more expressive style called Protoattic (S 1067, pls. 10-12). This hydria is nearly a twin of the painter's name piece in Athens. The Geometric material concludes with a horse pyxis, two tankards, a cup and a bowl.

The rest of the vases are Attic black-figure. The first entry is a panel amphora which Kunisch attributes to the Gorgon Painter (S 1073, pls. 15, 1-2; 16, 1-2). There is a typical amphora Type B from Group E (S 485, pls. 18-19): a rather sober vase decorated with well-known subjects that are not very imaginative. Of interest to the reviewer is the amphora attributed to the Swing Painter by Dietrich von Bothmer, an attribution accepted by Kunisch (S 1205, pls. 18, 3-4; 20). This vase is by the Princeton Painter and goes with one of his in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.1 An amphora Type A attributed to the Euphiletos Painter (S 1096, pls. 21;22, 1-2), an artist working in the 520s, has an animal frieze on the side of its mouth with the figures on white ground, a new feature of the painter's work. A neck amphora by the Castellani Painter (S 1104, pls. 23-24), an artist in the Tyrrhenian Group, is a good example of the colorful character of their vases. This one has a symposium on the shoulder of one side: three pairs of symposiasts recline on couches, and below one of them a hound chews on a bone. The other side offers a merry group of komasts dancing to either side of a huge cauldron, its contents stirred by a woman. One wonders what this brew might be, probably potent. Strange splashes of glaze fall to the ground, which Kunisch interprets as fire, but flames usually rise and I wonder if they could be some of the pot's contents that spilled out due to vigorous stirring. Plate 25 (S 1170) presents a neck-amphora by the Affecter, a mannerist active in the third quarter of the sixth century.

An odd vase is S 1089 (pls. 26-27), an ovoid neck-amphora that has an animal frieze below the main figures and a pair of owls standing on the ground below each handle in the palmette-lotus configuration. Kunisch writes that some scholars have doubted the anthenticity of this vase, but a thermoluminescence test revealed it is ancient (..."ergab ein Herstellungsdatum vor 2000 bis 3000 Jahren" (p. 37). Perhaps, but details raise suspicions. Neck-amphorae that have a secondary frieze of figures below the main composition are all of the type popular in the third quarter of the sixth century; they are characterized by a very broad shoulder and a rather squat appearance, not an ovoid one. The satyr standing at the left of the composition turns 180 degrees (pl. 27, 3): i.e., from the waist up he is in profile to the left, from the waist down he is in profile to the right. Normally, the torso of such a figure is shown frontally (compare Hermes on the other side: pl. 26, 3). This is very peculiar. The satyr reclining on the ground playing the aulos for Dionysos is difficult to parallel for he is completely off balance -- he leans back too far with no means of support. The three parallels drawn by Kunisch are really quite different (p. 38): 1) Vatican 355: the torso of the satyr is more upright, he leans against the side of the panel and he has a pillow; 2) Basel, Mrs. Arthur Wilhelm Collection: the satyr rests against a pillow; 3) on Basel BS 06.265: the satyr is down on one knee for support. The figural decoration on this vase raises a red flag.

An interesting neck-amphora is the squat one (S 99, pls. 28, 1-2; 29, 1-2), for this is a rare variant. Kunisch attributes S 486 (pls. 28, 3-4; 30, 1-2) to the Painter of Berkeley 8.3376 but does not tell the reader anything about this obscure artist; he just refers to ABV, p. 391 where one reads that it is one of the "slighter pieces that seem related to Munich 1416" (ABV p. 367, no. 90). One needs more information here. A good column-krater depicts a chariot race (S 1199, pls. 32-33), the subject continuing around the vase with the winning team crossing the goal post. Kunisch convincingly attributes it to the Rycroft Painter, an artist working in the last decade of the sixth century who may have been a pupil of Psiax. A hydria (S 480, pl. 34) covered with ineptly drawn figures represents the work of the ubiquitous Polos Painter whose vases traveled far and wide in antiquity, just as they have in modern times. The frontal horsemen on S 1165 (pl. 35, 4) are inscribed Polydeukos and Kastor. What is interesting and unusual about them is that Polydeukos is dressed as a hoplite, complete with Corinthian helmet, greaves, round shield and two spears. His twin, however, looks like a squire such as one sees on the Naples amphora by Lydos who accompanies a mounted hoplite.2 Normally, the two look alike, especially when they are mounted (see LIMC III [1986], pp. 569ff, passim). The hydria is contemporary with the early work of Lydos and attributed by Herman Brijder to the Ainipylos Painter; comparanda for this relatively unknown painter appear on p. 43.

The rest of this fascicule presents the smaller vases, many of considerable interest. There are two nice trefoil oinochoai (S 282 and 281: pl. 36) and two olpai (S 494 and S 162: pl. 37). S 494 shows Eos with Memnon, the figures on white ground. Lekythoi range considerably in quality. S 497 (pl. 39, 1-4) depicts a symposium with Dionysos, two women and a satyr; the left woman holds a child on her lap. Kunisch cites parallels for the latter (p. 47) and attributes this vase to the Acheloos Painter, who normally decorates large vessels. Some of the late lekythoi belong to familiar painters and workshops: S 495 (pl. 38, 1-3) to the Little Lion Class, S 149 by the Gela Painter (pl. 40, 1-4), S 146 and S 448 (pl. 41, 6-8 and 11-13) are Haimonian, a very productive workshop short on talent. The lekythoi conclude with two handsome black cylinders with patterns on the shoulder (S 457 and S 502: pl3. 42, 1-2 and 7-8; 43, 1-2), one in Six's technique (S 1177: pl. 42, 3-4) and three with black pattern on white ground (S 261, S 341, S 363, pl. 42, 5-6, 9-10.)

The remainder of the small vases are open shapes including a CHC Group Skyphos with the customary chariot wheeling round (S 18: pl. 43, 3-4), one from the Pistias Class (S 302: pl. 43, 5-7), plus several other late skyphoi. Also included are a kyathos (S 487: pl. 45, 1-3), an exaleiptron (S 1025: pl. 45, 4-5), a handsome Nikosthenic pyxis (S 1212: pls. 45, 6; 46) that depicts Dionysos and Ariadne combined with women spinning wool (unusual), a footed plate with a lion in the tondo (S 1019: pl. 47, 1-2) and a Segment cup decorated with a dog looking as if it bays at the moon (S 569: pl. 47, 5-6). There are several Siana cups, including one that depicts a grape harvest with men lugging large baskets laden with the fruit, one trampling grapes in a trough, another pouring juice into a pithos half buried in the ground (S 1075: pls. 48, 3; 1-3). Kunisch says it is the earliest preserved example of this subject (ca. 550 B.C.); most of them occur later in the sixth century or early in the fifth and this example is more detailed than most. A boar hunt is in full force on S 994 (pl. 50, 1, 3); it may be the Calydonian, but the inscriptions naming the participants are not very legible (p. 60, fig. 22). The remaining cups are Little Masters (both lip and band), a Cassel cup, and eye cups Type A.

The diversity of the vases in this collection serves a university museum very well and anyone teaching in a college or university would be most fortunate to have access to such a variety of material. In conclusion, this is an excellent CVA and I greatly look forward to the promised fascicules.


1.   MMA 56.171.9, p. 299, no. 15; Paralipomena, p. 129, no. 12; Addenda, p. 78). To be published by me in an article that deals with the five vases by the Princeton Painter in the Museum, which will appear in the Journal of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
2.   Naples 81292, ex. 2770 (ABV, p. 109, no. 23; Paralipomena, p. 44, no. 23; Addenda, p. 30).

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