Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2017.02.09 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017.02.09

Susan B. Matheson, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, Fasc. 2; United States of America, Fasc. 39.   Darmstadt:  Philipp von Zabern, 2016.  Pp. xiv, 150; 65 p. of plates.  ISBN 9783805348881.  €99.95.  


Reviewed by Thomas Mannack, Beazley Archive, Oxford (thomas.mannack@beazley.ox.ac.uk)

The second CVA Yale fascicule completes the publication of Greek figure-decorated pottery in the Yale University Art Gallery and publishes 60 Athenian and 4 Boeotian black-figure vases, an Attic red-figure bell-krater acquired by the Gallery after the completion of the first fascicule, and 21 fragments from the collection of the late Charles Martin Robertson, purchased by the museum in 2008.

While most countries now bind the plates of CVA volumes with the text, the USA series is still published with loose plates, which are a nightmare for librarians safeguarding their holdings, but much easier to consult and compare.

The introduction provides brief histories of the collection and research, and a lengthy list of acknowledgements. The majority of objects originates from the collection of Paul Arndt in Munich. Few of the Yale vases have a secure archaeological provenance; a number of objects from the Robertson collection were found in the Sanctuary of Aphrodite in Aegina and on the Athenian Acropolis. The dearth of find spots is reflected by the absence of an index of provenances.

A relatively short bibliography precedes the main body of the catalogue which presents the Yale vases in the manner, written by an expert in the field, and clear structure of the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum: inventory number, shape, provenance, shape and ornament, iconographical subject, artist, date, dimensions and condition, technical features, bibliography, and comparanda. Entries are numbered consecutively in the catalogue but not on the plates and are provided with their Beazley Archive Pottery Database number. The vases are supplied with detailed profile drawings and superb illustrations on 64 black and white plates. The fascicule is eminently useful: a number of vases, among them the lekythoi 20-22 and 27-30, the neck-amphora 2, olpai 12, 14, and 17, pyxis 44, cup-skyphos 51, the fragment of the Panathenaic amphora 8, and most of the Robertson vases have hitherto been unpublished or insufficiently made public.

The fascicule includes a large variety of shapes set out clearly in the title, and many vases of great scholarly and artistic interest. Among the noteworthy items are a belly amphora attributed to Group E depicting the Birth of Athena (1); a fragmentary neck-amphora assigned to the Affecter (2), united on the plate with fragments in Paris, Heidelberg, and Frankfurt; a neck-amphora juxtaposing a hoplite and a maenad between eyes on obverse and reverse (4); two Panathenaic amphorae by the Kleophrades Painter (6, 7); a hydria by an artist near the Tyrrhenian Group (11) decorated with hoplites fighting; an oinochoe fragment (13) and an olpe with Herakles (14); and an olpe with Ajax and Achilles playing (16).

The Yale Art Gallery houses a large number of impressive lekythoi. A superb unattributed vase shows Herakles and Kyknos (22) and a high quality example attributed to the Edinburgh Painter exhibits Apollo’s chariot (23). Lekythos 24, assigned to the Athena Painter, depicts Poseidon riding a Hippalektryon while 25, white ground with a false interior and attributed to the Beldam Painter, has a chariot being unharnessed; the text omits a cross-reference to the illustration of the false interior.

Other interesting vases include an unattributed tripod pyxis with Achilles and Troilos (43), a charming tortoise-shaped askos (45), and good examples of Komast, Siana, and Little Master cups, and cups type A (52-59).

The good and high quality Athenian black- and red-figure fragments from the Robertson collection, among them a fragment of a white ground lekythos from the circle of the Inscription Painter (87), provide an interesting insight in the collection tastes of senior scholars and experts in the field.

The catalogue is supported by an Appendix providing references to Beazley’s notebook 68 containing his notes on the Yale collection available on the Beazley Archive’s web site and of interest to students of connoisseurship; a it also includes indexes of inventory numbers, Beazley and ABL references, painters and workshops, mythological subjects, and non-mythological subjects.

In summary, the second Yale CVA fascicule is a superb addition to the series and will prove of very great interest to students of Greek vase painting, religion, and art.

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