BMCR 2006.01.47

Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, Great Britain, fascicule 21. Harrow School. With the collaboration of Thomas Mannack

Union académique internationale., Corpus vasorum antiquorum. Great Britain.. Oxford: Printed by order of the Trustees of the British Museum, 1925-c2002. volumes 1-16, 18-19 : illustrations ; 33 cm. ISBN 0197262570 $125.00.

This fascicule is a very welcome addition to the recent volumes in the British CVA series. It contains the Greek, Etruscan and Cypriot vases given to Harrow School on two separate occasions. The largest number of vases was presented in 1864 by the distinguished Egyptologist, Sir John Gardner Wilkinson, who had attended Harrow as a boy, retained a lifelong interest in the school, and hoped the gift of his collection would awaken in future generations an interest in antiquity. I hope it has. The material given by Wilkinson is as rich as may be hoped for with regard to fabric, shape, painter and subject. It includes Attic black-figure and red-figure, as well as white ground, Boeotian and Apulian red-figure, Campanian black-figure and red-figure, also Etruscan, Corinthian, Calenian, and Attic, Italiote and Etruscan black glaze. The second presentation of antiquities was from the Cyprus Exploration Fund at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. This pottery ranges in time from the the Early Bronze Age through the Roman period, but only the Bronze Age and Cypriot Geometric from the second gift appear in this fascicule.

The Introduction provides a very interesting glimpse into Wilkinson’s pattern of collecting and reveals what an erudite, well traveled man he was. His interest in Greek vases was inspired by visits to the superb collection in the British Museum, and, when he began to collect vases, he also became a self-taught and gifted copyist. A representative sample of his work may be seen in the reproduction of his watercolors in figures 1-4 on pp. xiii-xvi. Some of his engravings appear in his Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians and illustrate objects in his collection. While whole or intact vases are usually more prized than fragments, even today, Wilkinson already recognized that “a small fragment of pottery may sometimes prove and illustrate more and be of greater importance than an entire and handsome vase” [p. xvii]. Quite a prescient remark for such an early time in the study of Greek vases!

The description of each vase is detailed and impeccable, not only with regard to figural compositions, but also to details of shape as well as accessory color, technical features and present condition. Sometimes, the cost of the vase is given, which naturally pales beside today’s astronomical prices, and this is an amusing touch. Measurements are generous. For each entry, when relevant, there are ample comparanda, particularly for shape and style. Iconography is another matter (see below). The photographs are excellent and the plate layout generous. Profiles and drawings of graffiti and dipinti appear in the relevant parts of the text, and here the reviewer wishes that a scale for each had been included, as is the custom.

The text begins with two Attic black-figured neck-amphorae of Panathenaic shape, and here a technicality of terminology should be mentioned. There is a difference between a neck-amphora of Panathenaic shape and a Pseudo-Panathenaic amphora. These two vases are good examples of the latter. The neck-amphora of Panathenaic shape imitates the shape but not the subjects of the prize vase; the Pseudo-Panathenaic retains the subjects, but differs in three respects: Athena does not always appear between columns (she does on these two), there is no prize inscription, and the vase is usually smaller in size and hence capacity than the prize vase. These distinctions were made very clear by the recent work of Martin Bentz, and Gaunt cites Bentz in his bibliography but seems to have overlooked this distinction. Also, on the first of these two vases (1864.24: pl. 1), Athena does not wear an ependytes which was a tunic-like garment worn over a chiton, not over a peplos, coming about mid-way down the skirt of the chiton. On the second vase (1864.23: pl. 2), the goddess does seems to wear an ependytes over a chiton, as Gaunt writes (i.e., if the lines on the lower part of the skirt were intended by the painter to be folds emerging from the lower border of the ependytes; this area is a little ambiguous). For the ependytes, see Miller, Hesperia 58 (1989), pp. 313-329. There are two handsome Antimenean neck-amphorae, one by the painter himself and one from the Group of Toronto 305, as well as some late small neck-amphorae, including one with a Chimaera (but no Bellerophon) (1864.29: pl. 6, 3). A lovely kyathos, a CHC Group skyphos, a mastoid cup and a few late lekythoi, some of them in black-pattern, comprise the rest of the Attic black-figured material. The Amazons on the skyphos (1864.45: pl. 9, 4 and 6) wear short black chitons — this is not mentioned in the description. For the mastoid cup (1864.49: pl. 10, 1-3), if the figure on the hippocamp really is Poseidon, LIMC VI [1994], pp. 447, 466 and 478 plus the examples on p. 462, nos. 153-157 should have been cited. For the lekythos with Athena fighting giants (1864.31: pl. 10, 7-10) , the appropriate references in LIMC IV [1988], pp. 222-226, nos. 205-267 should have been included in the Comparanda (1864.31 is no. 254 on p. 225). One of the lekythoi (1864.33: pl., 11, 4-6) depicts Herakles and the Erymanthean Boar, but there is no reference to LIMC V [1990], pp. 43-44, nos. 2093-2095: Herakles wrestles the boar without weapons.

The Attic red-figured section leads off with a beautiful neck-amphora with twisted handles attributed by Beazley to the Kleophrades Painter (1864.55: pl 13). It is one of those ‘dark’ vases (i.e. only one figure on each side), popular in the early fifth century, especially with the Kleophrades Painter and his famous colleague, the Berlin Painter. Each side depicts a satyr arming. The suggestion that ”The satyrs should be understood as squires for Dionysos in the gigantomachies” (p. 12) needs some explanation citing examples where satyrs actually appear in gigantomachies with Dionysos, for there do not seem to be many (see, e.g., LIMC IV, pp. 229-30, no. 315: Ferrara 2892 in the manner of the Peleus Painter [ca. 440-430 B.C.] provides an excellent example). Particularly interesting about this vase is the preliminary sketch (accompanying the text on pp. 12-13), for it shows how the Kleophrades Painter changed his mind with regard to the satyr holding a Corinthian helmet on Side A, and the right arm of the one on Side B. Inclusion of Peter Corbett’s notes on this vase written in 1949 rounds out this entry and is particularly welcome and the reader is referred to Corbett’s basic article on preliminary sketch (JHS 85, 1965, pp. 16-28). One of the show pieces of the collection is the column-krater by the Cleveland Painter (1864.50: pls. 15-16) that depicts a vivid scene of the centaurs pounding Kaineus into the ground, a scene that probably reflects the painter’s acquaintance with monumental painting. Add to the bibliography on p. 14: LIMC VIII [1997], p. 689. no. 208. The column-krater by the Duomo Painter (1864.65: pl. 17, 3) depicts a symposiast playing kottabos, an after-dinner game, but there is no explanation of how the game was played or references to Sparkes, Archaeology 13, 1960, pp. 202-207 or to Oakley, Phiale Painter (1990), p. 41, which describe it. The pelike by the Agrigento Painter (1864.51: pl. 18, 1-2) depicts Theseus and the Minotaur on the obverse and Theseus and Prokrustes on the reverse, but there is no commentary on the subject and no iconographical parallels drawn (for Theseus and Prokrustes, see LIMV VII [1994], pp. 933-934, nos. 126-147; for the Minotaur, pp. 940-943, nos. 228-260). There are, however, excellent comparanda for 1864.58 (pl. 18, 3-4), a pelike by the Washing Painter depicting Eros flying above an altar (he holds a chest not a box as described — the object has feet). This inconsistency is puzzling. The name vase of the Harrow Painter is a handsome oinochoe depicting a youth rolling a hoop (1864.56: pl. 20). Of particular interest is the Theseus cycle cup (1864.52: pls. 22-25: for this vase, the LIMC references are included in the bibliography) and the generous layout of illustrations for it is especially welcome. On p. 23 (re: 1864.53), the paragraph beginning ‘On B, halteres hang…’ should come after the next paragraph which describes the figures in the scene. On p. 25 (re: 1890.38, the reference to Moon: this is an M.A. thesis, not a dissertation.

The next sizable section contains the non-Attic material. It begins with Apulian and Campanian red-figure. A big volute-krater by the Tenri Painter is a large, colorful vessel typical of Apulian. The others are smaller vessels, including a hydria, oinochoai, a pyxis, a lekanis lid, a rhyton and a lekythos. A neck-amphora, an oinochoe, a bell-krater and a stemless cup comprise the Campanian material. The youth on the Apulian hydria (1864.71: pl. 32, 1-2) holds a ribbed patera with five objects projecting above its rim — the author is silent about what they may be and leaves it to the reader to figure them out. Gnathian, followed by Etruscan black-figure, pattern and red-figure follow, then Etrusco-Corinthian and Corinthian, including a Protocorinthian globular aryballos. Some of these vases are attributed, but the author does not draw specific parallels with pertinent work of the painter; again he leaves this task to the reader. Examples: 1864.1: pl. 43 by the Dodwell Painter; 1864.10: pl. 44, 1-3 by the Cock Painter.

The rest of the fascicule is a potpourri that includes Calenian, Attic black-glaze (including a well-preserved Vicup, a rare shape), some vessels with impressed decoration, Italiote, Etruscan black-glaze, Bucchero and Impasto, and Cypriot. The text concludes with an appendix of vases once in the collection but now missing and presumed lost in World War II. The descriptions are based on Wilkinson’s sketches, some of which appear on pp. xv and xvi. The last sections are a Concordance to Museum Number and an Index of Principal Subjects.

This is an important collection, an excellent one for encouraging young people to become interested in ancient vases and to learn why they are important, that vases are not merely objects to admire but often provide a visual insight into Greek civilization and culture. In short, this CVA fascicule includes something for everyone, whether one is interested in shape, ornament or style, iconography and technique, just to mention the major rubrics. It has put the Harrow collection on the archaeological map.