Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2008.06.12

Norbert Eschbach, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, Deutschland 83. Göttingen, Archäologischies Institut der Universität 3, Attische Schwartzzfigure Keramik.   Munich:  Verlag C.H. Beck, 2007.  Pp. 166; pls. 860, supplmental pls. 24, figs. 25.  ISBN 978-3-406-55855-9.  €88.00.  



Reviewed by Michael M. Eisman, Temple University (m.eisman@temple.edu)
Word count: 1146 words

Norbert Eschbach (E.) and the team of conservators, restorers and photographers that back him up have produced an excellent CVA with some very difficult material. The current volume although about the normal size of a CVA actually contains much more. Of the 238 entries, only 33 of these are either complete or half of the vase. The rest are fragments with some made up of more than one joining fragment or separate fragments that belong to the same vase. It is a truism for those working with pottery that one cannot ignore the fragments. Indeed the work with fragments requires the most discriminating eye and the most complete knowledge of the field. With all of this, E. has demonstrated a keen eye and has made attributions for 103 pieces.

The text and plates are arranged in sections, one for each of the following shapes: amphora, loutrophoros, pelike, hydria, oinochoe and olpe, lekythos, closed shape fragments, krater, stamnos, lekanis, kyathos,1 kantharos, skyphos, kylix and white-ground black-figure in that order. This includes 5 vases from the Berlin Staatliche Museum that are on loan to Göttingen. Each section is arranged from the most complete to the most fragmentary pieces. This sometimes results in chronological dislocation within the section where fragments dated earlier appear after later material. Each entry gives the new catalogue number and older numbers, source where known (the largest number were obtained by P. Hartwig on the Roman market in 1897), publication data, condition (including date of restoration2), decoration, date and attribution, discussion and references to back up the discussion of the vase. There are profiles of 107 of the vases and fragments; the complete profiles or portions are reproduced at 1:1. Most of the photographs are also 1:1. The volume is completed with nine indexes: 1. Concordance on Inventory numbers past and present with the plates, 2. Painters, Groups, Classes and Workshops, 3. dipinti and graffiti, 4. proveniences, 5. collections, 6. joins with pieces in other museums, 7. technical peculiarities, 8. subjects, and 9. supplementary plates.

Of this collection only 18 have been previously published and another 31 have been noted in the literature. Most important are the 13 sets of fragments that have been joined with others from different museums. In addition to the plates with the Göttingen fragments, supplementary plates 19-24 give photomontages of joining fragments and separate photographs where the fragments do not join. While none of these vases is now complete, the recognition of the joins has enabled us to get a better idea of the vases concerned.

This CVA is novel in two ways. First, all of the photography is digital. From what I can tell this has resulted in clear and easily discernable details in all of the photographs. One might want to compare the two photographs of K374 (Beilage 22,4 and Tafel 70,13) where the angle of the photomontage shows the profile better than the photograph on plate 70. The difference is minor and the profile is easily seen in the drawing on Beilage 14,10. Second, this CVA is the first that I have noted that incorporates the numbers from the Beazley Archive Database of Pottery. Certainly this is a great aid in looking at the comparisons and studying the individual pieces.

The importance of using the Beazley Archive cannot be stressed too much. While the other Beazley lists remain useful, particularly for seeing the arrangements that Beazley made in listing one painter after another for certain groupings, the archive lists are now indispensable. However, it is very easy to have something go awry in transferring these numbers.

I note the following entries where there is an incorrect number and I give the correct number: Pl. 39 K265, 320541 should be 30531; Pl.41, K270, 33874 should be 330874; Pl. 42, K276, 239384 should be 29384; Pl. 43, F1050 5695 should be 5692; Pl. 48, K299, 31029 should be 310029; Pl. 54, K309, 392237 should be 302237; Pl. 62 K332, 679 should be 6792. Pl. 79, K396 has an incorrect reference of 35077 for a vase on the Paris market but I was unable to determine what the correct number should be. The only other typo that I noticed is on Plate 57 8-9 where the number should be 316 a-c.

The only serious point of disagreement with E. that I have concerns the dating of late black-figure vases. This is, of course, a very difficult problem that has persisted since Haspels published Attic Black-Figure Lekythoi in 1936 and A.D. Ure reviewed it in the Journal of Hellenic Studies that year. In general E. prefers to date vases from the end of the sixth century a little later and a little narrower than I would (see Appendix below). As seen from the chart in note 3, these numbers are fairly close except for K294, K307, K394, and the Beldam Workshop: K424, 425, 427.

The following notes on specific vases illustrate just how challenging interpreting these fragments can be.

K232, Pl. 29, 1-7. The boxers on the neck appear to be participating in a victory celebration not boxing.

K272, Pl.41, 6. This is listed as Amazonomachy with Herakles but it could just as easily be a procession with Athena and then Herakles on a chariot

K309, Pl. 54, 1-11 and Pl. 55, 1-5. The krater is not attributed yet the parallels cited point to the Circle of the Lysippides Painter.

K361, Pl. 69, 4. The attribution to the style of the Elbows-Out Painter is probably correct but a case could be made for this being the work of the painter himself.

K379, Pl. 72, 4. This is listed as an eye cup on the basis of the attribution to the Group of Courting Cups but there is no evidence of the eyes.

K383, Pls. 74 and 75, 1-7. This looks like an early eye cup of the Leafless Group.

K390, Pl. 76, 6-8. Here the lower part of the bird is listed as a cock or hen but could is more probably be a siren.

K406, Pl. 80, 1-3. It is suggested that the cup is a bilingual, but since there is only the bf tondo and no rf figure or decoration, it could just as easily be a bf cup.

This excellent CVA can be supplemented with three color photographs of entries online.

Appendix

Here are E.'s dates, followed by mine:

K213, K226: 500; 510-500
K229: 500-490; 500
K269: 480-470; 490-480
K272, K273: 500-490; 510-500
F1959: 500; 490-480
K291 - K293: 480-470; 490-470
K294: 480-460; 500-475
K295: 480-470; 490-470
K306, K307: 500-480; 515-505
K274: 500; 510-500
K329: 480-470; 490-470
K334: 500-490; 510-490
K335: 480; 490-480
K337: 480-460; 490-470
K338: 500-475; 510-490
K381: 500-480; 505-490
K386, K389: 500-470; 510-490
K387: 500-475; 505-480
K338: 500-475; 505-480
K390, K393, K394: 500-475; 510-490
K400 K402: 500-475; 510-480
K401, K403, K405, K409: 500-475; 510-480
K424: 450-425; 470-450
K427: 480-470; 490-480
K429, K431, K432: 480-460; 490-470.

Notes:


1.   Full disclosure: I read a preliminary version of the section on kyathoi.
2.   Most of the vases have been restored in the early years of this century. Twenty-five were restored between 1968 and 1974.

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