Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2006.03.38

Erika Kunze-Götte, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, Deutschland fasc.78. München, Antikensammlungen Fascicule 14: Attisch-Schwarzfigurige Halsamphoren.   Munich:  C.H. Beck, 2005.  Pp. 94; b/w pls. 49, profile drawings.  ISBN 3-406-53203-9.  

Reviewed by Ann Steiner, Franklin & Marshall College (
Word count: 1731 words

Very well-produced, well-written, and loaded with information, this volume presents a group of Athenian black-figure neck-amphoras dating primarily from the last two decades of the 6th century and almost all from the Etruscan site of Vulci. The result is a focused glimpse into the ancient Athenian export market and a reminder that the full picture of Etruscan use of Athenian figural pottery extends far beyond red-figure masterpieces.

The fascicule presents Attic black-figure neck-amphoras, both standard (21) and small-size (23, defined as shorter than 35 centimeters), as well as Panathenaic prize amphoras (7) and so-called pseudo-Panathenaics (6). Single fragments of Panathenaics (12) are included. A list of 72 vessels, entirely lost or preserved only in fragments owing to the effects of war, is appended and these vases are not illustrated except for three examples where old photos or drawings are presented. The volume includes vessels loaned from Munich to Erlangen, and their entries are clearly marked. The majority of the vases have a provenience in Italy, with 45 formerly from the Candelori Collection. The range of dates is very narrow, with the majority from about 530 to 500 and just a few as late as 490/80. Two late examples are a miniature 4th century Panathenaic amphora (Munich N.I. 6253), now lost, and a prize amphora with an inscription revealing it was made in the Archonship of Pythodelos in 336/5 (Munich N.I. 7767).

The fascicule includes two very well-known vessels: the Panathenaic prize amphora by the Kleophrades Painter (Munich 1456 [J.656]) and the early unattributed example displaying adult males running and inscribed ΣΤΑΔΙΟ ΑΝΔΡΟΝΝΙΚ[ (Munich 1451 [J.498]). Most of the vases are less impressive and less well-known, but they give some depth to a vision of the Athenian export market to Etruria, and especially to Vulci. Neck-amphoras from the group of artists connected with the Antimenes Painter and the Leagros Group are extensively represented, as are a number by the Red-line Painter. Several examples are identified by the author as belonging to the "Atalanta Group," which K.-G. has demonstrated elsewhere to be the locus of the black-figure production of the Kleophrades Painter.1

The volume follows the format of Munich CVA volumes 7-9, and like all volumes in the CVA series is aimed at specialists. Each entry includes up-to-date bibliography, condition, a full description of the shape, the subsidiary ornament, and the figural scenes, and a date. Elements depicted in added color are clearly identified in the descriptions of the figural scenes. A drawing of graffiti or dipinti, or, in the case of several Panathenaic prize amphoras, shields with their poorly preserved devices in added color, accompanies the relevant section in the entry. The objective presentation is followed by discussion that includes the author's commentary and relevant bibliography on aspects of the vessel the author deems noteworthy. The use of italicized subheadings makes each entry extremely easy to use for discussion and the author's contributions are clearly distinguished from the objective description. The commentary on painters often includes additions and refinements to Beazley's attributions. Many of the neck-amphoras, 17 of the small-size examples and 11 of the standard-sized examples, were not attributed by Beazley. The author makes well-supported suggestions for either general associations to workshops and painters or in some cases precise attributions; she points out many vases apparently by the same hand among the examples included in this volume. These attributions are a significant contribution to the ongoing task of organizing the substantial number of black-figure vessels not included in Beazley's lists. The author places a fragmentary example (Munich N.I. 9245) recovered from the 19th-century Munich "sherd-depot," close to the Amasis Painter and suspects there may be additional fragments of this vessel in other museums (such as the Vatican and Munich) to which the Candelori collection vases were dispersed. There are helpful references that include post-Beazley attributions made by other scholars, such as in the entry on Munich 1577 (J 620), which cites a fragmentary krater from Agrigento attributed by E. de Miro to the Rycroft Painter and very like the Munich example which Beazley attributed to the same artist.

The photographs are uniformly excellent; the practice of providing A and B sides of the vases one above the other is extremely useful. 1:1 profile drawings are provided for every vessel for which an accurate drawing is achievable. There are accurate drawings included in the text for all inscriptions, graffiti and dipinti, including life-size drawings of the prize inscriptions on the Panathenaic prize amphoras.

Each entry includes dimensions and volume where this information is recoverable, and the data is repeated in a table at the end of the text along with the indices. By collecting this information in one place, K.-G.makes it possible to see clearly the actual range of sizes for neck-amphoras commonly designated as "standard" or "small." The latter, for example, can range from 14 to 24 centimeters in height and from 0.4 to 2.3 liters in capacity. The significant difference in capacity between a Panathenaic prize amphora and a standard amphora of the same height is striking: the largest standard-sized neck amphora is 25% shorter than the typical prize amphora, but its capacity is 50% less.

The appendix of 72 abbreviated entries represents as thorough and responsible a documentation of vases either lost or reduced to fragments as one could expect. In the cleanup after WW II, fragments of formerly complete or restored vessels in the collections were mixed with those in the "sherd-depot," i.e. the large quantity of fragmentary vessels and sherds that had entered the collections of the Glyptothek in the 19th century along with the complete vases that form the core inventory. These entries provide dimensions, sometimes collected from previous work of Jahn and Hackl, bibliography where it exists, and drawings of graffiti and dipinti. These fragments represent mostly hastily-executed examples; there are at least 10 attributed by Beazley to the Red-line Painter. The range of subjects represented is narrow, including many examples depicting "a seated Dionysos with a maenad" and many examples of small amphoras in white-ground.

As mentioned above, the majority of the vases included in the volume have a secure provenience, Vulci. It is therefore interesting to consider whether this group of vases supports the hypothesis that Athenian painters saw the export market as their first audience, and created both shapes and subjects to suit Etruscan requirements.2 The CVA subject-index lists more than 50 topics, excluding the Panathenaic prizes. All but two or three of these topics are also listed in Agora XXIII, the publication of the majority of the black-figure pottery excavated from that site.3 Likewise, the CVA index lists 22 different workshops or painters identified by Beazley, of which 17 are likewise represented at the Agora. This small sample suggests that the pottery used in Athens is very similar to that used at Vulci and undermines the idea that the Etruscan market demanded special and different products.

The number of graffiti examples on the undersurface of vessel feet is large, a total of 16, and among them are some intriguing and even unique examples. The word ΑΡΥΣΤΗ appears on Munich N.I. 9557,4 a complete foot of a prize Panathenaic otherwise lost, and refers to an Attic equivalent of the Ionian dry measure, aryster. The numerals that accompany this and two other examples (in Toronto and Leiden) similarly inscribed indicate these three prize amphoras were only partially filled when the graffiti were added.5 These graffiti indicate they held a quantity of 7.5 choes, the capacity of a standard neck-amphora, not 12 as for a typical Panatheniac prize. Such evidence suggests that the oil in Panathenaics figured as a commodity in the export market. Other uninscribed examples in this volume provide further testimony that Athenian victors dispersed their winnings, empty or full, and the prizes ended up with the Etruscans. For example, two by the Euphiletos Painter (Munich 1453 [Jahn 655] and Munich 1452 (J 657)] are assuredly from Vulci.

A second example preserves interesting graffiti that include three types of inscription: a shape name, an adjective, and a trademark. This set of inscriptions appears on the pseudo-Panathenaic prize amphora, Munich 1464 (J. 496). ΣΤΑ for stamnos is apparently a term for pelikes and amphoras, an alternative to kados. ΣΥΜΜΙ is an abbreviation for ΣΥΜΜΙΚΤΑ, a term understood to mean "a mixed lot" of vases.6 Finally ΑΡ is a trademark. K.-G. has re-attributed this neck-amphora to the Painter of the Munich Atalanta, switching it from Beazley's Painter of Vatican G 23 and thereby placing it instead in the black-figure workshop associated with the Kleophrades Painter.

One example reveals an ancient repair, interesting to note in the face of other evidence that clay vessels were not necessarily expensive or highly valued. This standard neck-amphora (Munich 1582 [J.1155]) by the Diosphos Painter, one of the few vessels attributed to him that are not lekythoi, shows metal staples joining fragments of the A-side of the vessel, a scene of Theseus struggling with the Minotaur. Apparently a 19th-century restoration used repair-holes drilled in antiquity, but supplied modern clamps to join the fragments together. Although this evidence of ancient repair is unusual among the vases in the volume, modern joins are apparent in almost every photograph.

These hairline cracks are vivid testimony for the particularly sad modern history of the collection. Twelve of the 21 entries on standard neck-amphoras and 16 of the 23 entries on small neck amphoras contain the phrase " im Krieg zerstört" as the first item in the section of the entry describing the condition of the vase. The constant reference, in the matter-of-fact standard prose style of the CVA series, to the effect of modern war on these vases is poignant. It is striking to consider that the vessels survived their export from Athens to Etruria, their recovery from their ancient deposit-context, their transfer into a private Italian collection, and their eventual entry in the 19th century into the collections in Munich, only to be reduced to fragments in the middle of the 20th century. The monumentality of the restoration effort required just to bring the vases to an approximation of their condition before the war is staggering; the conservator who led the massive restoration effort is singled out for acknowledgement in the preface. It is moving and sobering to confront the visible evidence for the additional layers of historical meaning imposed on these ancient vases by the events of the last century.


1.   E. Kunze-Götte, Der Kleophrades-Maler unter Malern schwarzfigurer Amphoren. Eine Werkstattstudie (1992).
2.   S. Lewis, The Athenian Woman: An Iconographic Handbook (2002) presents the view that the imagery on Athenian vases responds to the interests of the Etruscan market and is therefore an "outsider's view" and should be used to reconstruct Athenian social history with great caution.
3.   M. Moore, Attic Black-figured Pottery. Agora XXIII (1986). C. Reusser's comprehensive study (Vasen für Etrurien. Verbreitung und Funktionen attischer Keramik im Etrurien des 6. und 5. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. [2002]) of both red-and black-figure pottery in Etruria lists 83 different painters and workshops. Agora XXIII (M. Moore 1986) and Agora XXX (M. Moore, Attic Red-figured and White-ground Pottery [1997]) list 62 of these. For further evidence of Attic shapes and subjects in Etruria, see M. Bentz, C. Reusser, Attische Vasen in etruskischem Kontext. Funde aus Häusern und Heiligtümern, Beihefte zum CVA Deutschland 2 (2004).
4.   Listed in A.W. Johnston, Trademarks on Greek Vases (1979) [4F.3] as simply "Munich."
5.   Johnston (1979) 250 (4F.1) and Leiden PC 7 (4F.2); 224.
6.   J.D. Beazley, AJA 31 (1927) 351.

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