BMCR 2004.04.11

The Castellani Fragments in the Villa Giulia. Athenian Black Figure, vol. 2

, , , The Castellani fragments in the Villa Giulia. Athenian black figure. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 1989-. volumes : illustrations ; 32 cm. ISBN 8772882417. DKK 398.00 (pb).

The Castellani Fragments in the Villa Giulia. Athenian Black Figure, v. 2, is the second of two volumes devoted to the Attic black-figure fragments from the Castellani Collection in the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia. The companion to Lise Hannestad’s volume 1, which catalogued the cups, skyphoi, mastoid cups, and kyathoi, this book covers the remainder of the material: principally amphorae, neck-amphorae, lekythoi, oinochoai, kraters, and hydriai. A careful and detailed study of the fragments, very much along the lines of the first volume, this is an important addition to the corpus of Attic black-figure.

The fragments are from the collection of Augusto Castellani, which was given to the Villa Giulia in 1919. The collection was formed in the 1860s and 1870s, and most of the vases were found on lands belonging to the Ruspoli family at Cerveteri. Many of the complete vases are well known, thanks to Paolino Mingazzini’s magisterial two-volume catalogue of the vase collection that appeared in 1930 and 1971. More recently, on the occasion of the Castellani Collection’s reinstallation in 1999, a fine catalogue was published, with excellent illustrations and contributions from many scholars that highlighted the entire collection as well as the Greek and Etruscan vases.1

Mingazzini’s two volumes were devoted to the complete vases, but hundreds of fragments which had come to the Villa Giulia with the vase collection remained unpublished. In 1976, Lise Hannestad embarked on a project to publish the Attic black-figure fragments. Volume 1 appeared in 1989, and Hannestad had also intended to prepare the second volume herself. As is explained in the preface to volume 2, the press of other work made it necessary to entrust the publication to another scholar: first to Hans Erik Mathiesen, and then, after his death, to Helene Blinkenberg Hastrup. Both Hannestad and Mathiesen had done preliminary work on the fragments when Hastrup took on the project.

This volume follows the format of the first. The fragments are arranged according to shape, and each entry provides a detailed description (dimensions, ornament, added color, subject, and date), and each fragment is illustrated. The illustrations are good, and this volume also includes the welcome addition of 26 profile drawings. There is a concordance of registration (inventory) numbers; this is useful, too, since some of the fragments were renumbered, sometimes more than once. A list of painters to whom fragments are attributed is also included.

Hastrup catalogues 270 fragments; 366 are published in Hannestad’s volume 1. Of the fragments that are classified by shape, there are 68 amphorae and neck-amphorae of various kinds, 13 lekythoi, 13 “jugs,” 3 kraters, 1 dinos, and 9 hydriai. By far the largest section — comprising well over half the total number of entries, is “Fragments of Vases of Unidentified Shapes,” with 153 entries. The entries are not arranged in any apparent order, and it is also not always clear how fragments ended up in the “unidentified” section; in some cases the shape can be fairly confidently identified. For example, 118, “fragment of a neck-amphora (?)” is among the unidentified, while 36, “belly-shoulder fragment of neck-amphora (?)” is in the neck-amphora section. Surely both belong in the neck-amphora section.

Although this is a useful catalogue of an important collection, the reader may find it difficult to use and may be frustrated by its self-imposed limitations. Subject matter and iconography are seldom discussed, and, although most of the fragments are given a fairly precise date, there is almost never any mention of chronology. Generally, the assigned dates are not controversial, but on the occasions when one disagrees with the date it would be useful to know the author’s criteria. For example, 7, an SOS amphora, is dated c. 650 BC, which seems very early. The only reference is to E. Pottier, Vases antiques du Louvre (Paris 1897), for “amphorae of this type found at Cerveteri,” and that is unlikely to have provided any evidence for the date. More useful to the reader would have been a reference to the fundamental study by A. W. Johnston and R. E. Jones, where there is a full discussion of the dating and provenance of SOS amphorae, including some from Cerveteri.2

Sometimes Hastrup does not provide enough information in citations and really makes the reader work. For example, 24 is a neck-amphora with the struggle for the tripod on one side, and a mounted warrior between figures, including a seated old man, on the other. Side A is compared to a neck-amphora by the Long Nose Painter (Boulogne 69: ABV 328, 8), although it is not clear what the two versions have in common. Side B is compared to a vase in a Roman private collection, cited only by its Beazley Archive database number. A few more words would have helped the reader to identify the neck-amphora as Paralipomena 152 (Rome, Multedo), probably by the Painter of Cambridge 51, and thus given the reader some useful information to evaluate the author’s suggestions.

Although the illustrations are generally good, some of the fragments are mispoised in the photographs, such as 13, 112 and 179. Working with fragments is never easy, and it can be especially difficult to align non-joining fragments for photography. For example, with side B of the neck-amphora 25, the upper right fragment should be placed so that the warriors’ helmets line up, and the center right fragment, preserving the rightmost warrior’s torso, is mispoised.

The volume begins with entries for amphorae. There are six Horse-head Amphorae, two SOS amphorae, and two Nicosthenic amphorae. 9, a Nicosthenic amphora, was attributed by Beazley to Painter N ( ABV 222, 49); Hastrup assigns 10 to the painter as well. There are 6 Panathenaic amphorae. One (14), which, curiously, is not assigned a date, was called “very close to the Kleophrades Painter” by Beazley ( ABV 406, 7). Hastrup suggests it might be the work of the painter himself, and she is probably correct. 3. There are 23 neck-amphorae. 22 is a fragment of a Tyrrhenian Group neck-amphora ( Paralipomena 41), but surely so also is 176, among the unidentified fragments. It might be the work of the Castellani Painter, like two Tyrrhenian amphorae in the Castellani Collection published by Mingazzini: M 453 (50631: ABV 100, 73; Paralipomena 35; 38) and M 454 (50652: ABV 98, 42; Paralipomena 35; 37). For 23, a neck-amphora called “close to the Antimenes Painter’s circle,” the presence of a Scythian archer at an extispicy probably does not indicate that the “scene is set in the Trojan war.” They often appear in such scenes, and the meaning is not clear.4 25 is a neck-amphora that Hastrup identifies as ABV 270, 58, which Beazley assigned to the Antimenes Painter. Hastrup notes that Johannes Burow identifies another fragment, 140, with the Beazley citation, although he assigns it to the painter’s circle.5 Hastrup seems correct; the description in ABV fits better with 25 than with 140, although a good deal more of the vase was apparently found after Beazley wrote up his description. She suggests that the subject of the neck-amphora 36 is a warrior putting on greaves. More likely, the figure is part of a depiction of Ajax and Achilles gaming, as appears, for example, on the Castellani neck-amphora, M 484, assigned to the Group of Würzburg 199 (50622: ABV 288, 14).

The section on belly amphorae has 20 entries, and there are nine in a section simply called “amphorae,” although some of those, such as 65, are certainly neck-amphorae. Almost all of the belly amphorae are dated c.540-520 BC, and several are interesting, such as 40, with the ambush of Troilos and an arming scene. On 48, Athena appears to be in a more aggressive stance than one might expect at a scene of Herakles feasting, as Hastrup proposes, and so the subject might rather be Herakles and the Nemean Lion.

There are thirteen lekythoi, including 69, a lekythos of sub-Deianeira shape attributed to the Amasis Painter and assigned by Bothmer to the late middle period of the artist’s career. Among the other lekythoi, there are several, such as 71, 73 and 76, that can certainly be assigned to Phanyllis Group: E: The Group of ‘Hoplite-Leaving-Home’.6

The section called jugs includes olpai and oinochoai, dating to the last quarter of the 6th century BC. There are only three kraters. Hastrup suggests that 107 might be a fragment referred to by Beazley ( ABV 333), although he calls it a hydria not a krater, and the description in ABV is not a close match. 108 is part of a dinos of special shape (shallow body with tall neck and out-turned rim), and it is, as Hastrup notes, in the manner of the Antimenes Painter.7 She compares it to the painter’s own Madrid dinos (10902: ABV 275, 133) and to another, Louvre F 61, in his manner ( ABV 279, 50), but it can be more closely compared to three other dinoi of special shape: St. Petersburg, Hermitage B 1527; Civita Castellana (exVilla Giulia 959; ABV 279, 51) and Louvre Cp 12247, that are in the painter’s manner.8

Hastrup suggests that 177, among the unidentified fragments, might be a dinos or a krater. It looks like a dinos, with an animal frieze below a figured frieze, and it can be compared to an unusual, later dinos in Salerno.9 It is also very close to an unpublished dinos (77.AE.53) in the Getty, with a chariot race in the main frieze, and animals in the frieze below. It might also be one of a group of dinoi decorated with an animal frieze below a band of ornament. One would expect, however, to see a trace of the ornament above the figured frieze preserved. The empty space can be more easily explained as a void area in a figured frieze.10

There are nine hydriai. 110 is a fragmentary hydria with unusual spiral decoration on the sides of the panel; only the lower body and a non-joining shoulder fragment are illustrated. The subject of the main panel is Theseus and the Minotaur; somewhat unusually, the same scene decorates the shoulder panel. The same hydria appears in Mingazzini (v. 1, no. 431). There, however, the upper body is preserved, including a different shoulder panel (two figures — one a winged youth — between facing, seated sphinxes). One would like to know what happened. Did the fragments simply get separated and lost over time, and a new shoulder fragment came to be associated with them? Or were the fragments wrongly assembled when Mingazzini published them? 112 belongs to the fine early hydria by Lydos (M 430: ABV 108, 14) with a depiction of the fight between Herakles and Geryon. The photograph of it is upside down. The shoulder panel of 114, said to be close to the Antimenes Painter, is identified as a Gigantomachy, with part of Athena and an adversary preserved. Surely, the shoulder of 115, with Athena fighting alongside a chariot, facing a warrior and another chariot, could also be interpreted as a Gigantomachy.

There are many small and unprepossessing fragments included in the section “Fragments of Vases of Unidentified Shapes”, but even they are significant when part of such an important collection, and the project’s goal to publish all the fragments was certainly a good one. 179 shows Herakles, and Hastrup attributes it to Group E. Here, as elsewhere, the author does not discuss the attribution or the possible subject. It might be Herakles in the struggle for the tripod; the oblique line above his scabbard would be one of the tripod’s legs. It is fairly close to the depiction on a stamnos in the manner of the Antimenes Painter (Orvieto, Faina 48: ABV 279, 52). The fragment is mispoised in the photograph; the paws of the lionskin should hang vertically. 130, which is probably, as Hastrup suggests, from a belly amphora, might show Herakles and Kyknos. The figure in the middle with the elaborate drapery would be Zeus, and the greaved leg on the right would be Kyknos’ while the bare leg would be Herakles’. It is difficult to imagine what other scene is depicted on 132 than Herakles and Triton, although Hastrup suggests “it is different from the usual renderings where the combat is underlined by writhing bodies.” Her date of c.520 BC, seems late; there are several earlier versions that can be compared: the column-krater Athens 12587 ( ABV 40, 24) by Sophilos and a hydria (Taranto 4343: ABV 91, 1) by the Atalanta Group.11

The Castellani Fragments in the Villa Giulia. Athenian Black Figure, v. 2 is a beautifully produced publication of an important collection, but one finds oneself wishing for more. The book will be an important reference work, but it could have been even better.


1. La Collezione Augusto Castellani, ed. Anna Maria Sgubini Moretti (Rome 2000).

2. “The ‘SOS’ Amphora,” BSA 73 (1978), pp. 103-141.

3. Compare now also Malibu, Getty 77.AE.9 by the Kleophrades Painter. See S. Matheson, “Panathenaic Amphorae by the Kleophrades Painter,” Greek Vases in the J. Paul Getty Museum, v. 4 (1989), figs. 1a-c.

4. See, for example, F. Lissarrague, l’Autre guerrier: archers, peltastes, cavaliers dans l’imagerie attique (Paris 1990), pp. 55-69.

5. Der Antimenesmaler (Mainz 1989), p. 101, U 13.

6. See F. Giudice, I Pittori della classe di Phanyllis (Catania 1983), pp. 88-118.

7. Citing Johannes Burow’s attribution, (Der Antimenesmaler [Mainz 1989] p. 25, note 142).

8. For St. Petersburg, Hermitage B 1527, see Burow, Der Antimenesmaler, M 16, pl. 141. For black-bodied dinoi, including those of special shape, by the Antimenes Painter and his workshop, see A. B. Brownlee, “Antimenean Dinoi,” Athenian Potters and Painters, ed. J. H. Oakley et al. (Oxford 1997), pp. 509-522, esp. pp. 515-516; and Burow, Der Antimenesmaler, pp. 25-27.

9. See Fratte: un insediamento etrusco-campano, ed. G. Greco and A. Pontrandolfo (Modena 1990), pp. 231-234.

10. For dinoi with animal friezes and ornament, see A. B. Brownlee, “An Attic Black-Figured Dinos in Basel,” Antike Kunst 31 (1988), pp. 104-106.

11. See G. Ahlberg-Cornell, Herakles and the Sea-Monster in Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painting (Stockholm 1984), pp. 14-25.