BMCR 2007.09.12

Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, Great Britain 22, Aberdeen University, Marischal Museum Collection, photographs by Robert L. Wilkins

, , , , Corpus vasorum antiquorum. Great Britain. Aberdeen University--Marischal Museum collection. Corpus vasorum antiquorum. Great Britain ; fasc. 22. Oxford: Published for the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 2006. ix, 40 pages, 53 pages of plates : illustrations ; 33 cm.. ISBN 0197263763. $135.00.

The present volume of the CVA is the third Scottish collection to be published by Moignard and Wilkins (hereafter M and W). Neither of the previous volumes (Edinburgh, CVA Great Britain 16, 1989 and Glasgow, CVA Great Britain 18, 1997) was reviewed in BMCR but the general comments here will also apply to them. Within this volume there are the following vases: one Mycenaean fragment, one Protocorinthian aryballos, 15 small Corinthian vases, 2 East Greek vases, 2 Attic patterned lekythoi, in Attic black-figure (hereafter bf) 8 amphorae, 2 oinochoe, and 24 lekythoi, in Attic red-figure (hereafter rf) a bell krater, a hydria, 3 amphorae, 4 kylixes, 4 lekythoi, and a miniature krater-like shape and a net patterned alabastron; 21 Apulian vases, one Lucanian rf, 14 Campanian rf, 2 Sicilian rf, 4 Italiote vases, 6 Gnathian, and 13 Etruscan vases.

M produces what could be properly called a minimalist text. Competent and clear, each entry provides the requisite catalogue number(s), bibliography, measurements, description and date. When it comes to attributions previously published, attributions are given, and there are a few which are ventured here. However, there is rarely any discussion that would elucidate the attribution or the style. Comparenda are the only guide to aid the reader. In general little attention is given to vases other than Attic bf and rf. Indeed, there is no discussion of any of the Italian rf or Italiote vases. Profiles are given only for 18 of the Attic vases (mostly the larger shapes and the rf kylixes), and except for the kylixes they are abbreviated with only lip and foot profiles given. Apparently profiles of other shapes are not deemed important. Graffiti are drawn but there is no discussion of them or the dipinti. On a few rf vases there are dipinti but here the letter is are given in the text in modern Greek type without drawings, translation or discussion. Labels and pencil markings have been reported as part of description of the vase instead of part of the present condition of the vase.

As an example one vase may show the difficulties of the abbreviated text style of M. She notes that the bf lekythos, 64033 (Pl. 18,4-6) is part of the Class of Athens 581 without specifying whether it is 581 (i) or (ii). Then ABV 485ff is noted with the comment “perhaps near the Marathon Painter.” ABV 485 is the second page of vases attributed to the Bompas Group, the sixth grouping of vases under the larger heading of the Dot-Band Class which is in the chapter of the Edinburgh Painter. The following page lists ‘The Painter of Vatican G 31’ which concludes that chapter. None of the vases in the references given show a similar iconography to the Glasgow vase’s scene of three people reclining on palettes at a symposium from right to left: youth, female, bearded male. Nor is the symposium a common scene of the Haimonian Group, although there are several two persons reclining. The style seems closer to the Leafless Group and the iconography recalls the many symposium scenes on the kyathoi of ‘The Group of Vatican G 57’. It may be suggested that this is from one of the less talented painters to emerge out of the Nikosthenic workshop that produced the kyathoi of ‘The Group of Vatican G57’, ‘The Leafless Group’ and ‘Haimon Painter’ and those around him. The latter two, of course, are producers of many lekythoi after the cessation of the Nikosthenic workshop.

It would be cruel to compare this text with those of the recent CVA s coming out of Germany or the United States, but even a look at recent Great Britain CVA s by Williams ( CVA 17) Winchester ( CVA 19) and Harrow (CVA 21) emphasizes just how little discussion is given here. Where attributions or similarities are suggested often there is simply a reference to the appropriate pages in Beazley ABV or ARV 2 , sometimes Paralipomena, or to a CVA; lekythoi also add ABL and AWL where relevant. A blanket reference to the general treatment of a painter, however, is not adequate justification for an attribution. Specific parallel vases should be cited and the reasoning set out. The reader should not have to attempt to recreate M’s thinking in order to judge the validity of these attributions and comparisons; more is definitely desired.

Ultimately the value of the CVA rests on the choice, quantity and quality of the photographs. Generally there are at least two photographs per vase, sometimes three. For the early fabrics the photographs are good and such details that cannot be made out seem to be due more to the condition of the vase than any fault of the photographer. It is, however, for just this type of situation that line drawings in the text would have been most helpful. The bf vases are quite another matter. Here the photographs do not show the incised detail with any clarity and the lekythoi are too small to see much of the relevant detail. Rf vases, both Attic and Italiote, fare much better as the relief line shows up well. Again the lekythoi are too small to really be seen. On the vases with detailed photographs, many of these are taken from rather strange angles that distort the figures. This is somewhat surprising because W’s photographs for Winchester ( CVA Great Britain 19) are much better.

This is a nice collection of good if not outstanding vases. It certainly should have appeal for those who are not able to get to the larger collections. But for scholars who are unlikely to get to see this collection first hand the CVA is an all important guide. In short, one is thankful for what is here, but there is a lot that is missing.

Notes on specific entries:

Pl. 1.4 (64165) Corinthian pointed aryballos. Both of M’s comparisons are to Italo-Corinthian vases and this one may well be Italo-Corinthian as well.

Pl. 4.7, 8. The two lekanides ((64068 and 64088) should be compared with Agora P5890, Sparkes and Talcott, Agora XII, no. 1215.

Pl. 5. (64020). While this bf hydria may not be attributable certainly a discussion can help place it in the overall production by citing comparisons. Here, as elsewhere there is no discussion of either the style or the subject.

Plate 7. The four photographs of the bf amphora Type B (64013) are so indistinct that little of the details or the incision can be seen. There are no photographs of the details that might show this. While M attributes this vase to the Manner of the Lysippides Painter and makes comparisons to the Mastos Painter and the Bateman Group, there is no discussion of this.

Pl. 13.4-6 (64015) small bf neck amphora. This is attributed to the Edinburgh Painter which is probably correct but the poor photograph will not show this. The same is true for the oinochoe attributed as ‘close to the AD Painter'(pl. 16,1-3: 64030).

Pl 15.1-5 bf neck amphora. No stylistic parallel is given. The details may suggest a fairly inept pupil of Psiax.

Pl. 18.10-12 (64040) bf lekythos. The text gives the shape as Class of Athens 581 (ii) but no attempt is made to attribute this vase which seems to be somewhere around ‘The Leafless Group’. A comparison is given to “Cab. Méd. 281 CVA Bib. Nat. 2 pl.78.3-4″ but this very old CVA photograph is even more indistinct that this one. The same is true of the lekythoi on pl 18. 13-15 (64046) and Pl. 19.4-5 (64052). For the latter two see comment above on lekythoi with symposium scenes.

Pl. 19.8-10 (64042) bf lekythos. As to the condition of the vase, the text indicates” “neck and handle lost. Surface wear”. Nothing is said about the incision, yet the photograph shows all the telltale signs of a vase that has been re-incised in modern times. Furthermore the date is give as “Second quarter of the 5th century” when first quarter would be a much better date. The same dating problem exists for the following lekythoi: 64050 (pl. 18.11-13), 64044 (pl. 18.14-16), 64034 (pl. 20.1-3) and the lekythoi in the next comment. See D. Kurtz, Athenian White Lekythoi, p. 150.

Pl. 21 (64344) rf bell krater. This needs detailed photographs of at least side A. M refers the reader to LIMC‘Poseidon’ fig. 159 as a comparison, but this is a bf kyathos and has little relationship to the vase in style, iconography or chronology.

Pl. 26.1-2 (64074) rf kylix. There is an obvious misprint: the first paragraph should be ‘exterior’ not ‘interior’.

Pl. 29.4 (64076) rf kylix. The description fails to mention that the two figures of the tondo are facing each other. M attributes this as ‘Related to the Pistoxenos Painter’ but does not suggest why. A reference to the ARV 2 section is an inadequate statement.

Pl 30 (64078) rf kylix. The description is very similar to that of the previous plate but the two vases look very different. Surely comment is called for here. Again the attribution to ‘Perhaps Penthesileia Painter’ is simply stated with out explanation or parallels.

Pl. 31 (64079) rf kylix. While indicating that ‘kalos’ is written on side B there is no indication where on side B and it is not visible in the photographs. Given that this is one of the important pieces in the collection, one would hope for some discussion of its style.

Pl. 32.1-2 (64032) rf lekythos. This is a good piece by the Tithonos Painter for which one should compare three examples in Tel Aviv: MHP 107761, MHP 107861 and MHP 107961.1

Pl. 32.3-4 (64319) rf lekythos. This is an interesting vase which deserves more discussion. However the date given of late 5th century should read early 5th century.

Pl. 32.5-7 (64058) rf squat lekythos. M. suggests as parallels first CVA Gotha 2. pl. 64.3 but this is clearly by a different painter and second, CVA Bonn 1, pl. 25.9 which is parallel in subject matter only.

Pl. 44.1-3 (50173) Campanian rf oinochoe. M’s comparisons are similar but not really a close match for the patterns on the vase.

Pl 48.1-2. (64002) Italiote miniature amphora. The description is laconic in the extreme and the photograph does not allow one to see details. While it is recognized that M is not the curator of the collection, nevertheless it seems that she should have convinced the appropriate people to remove the large and unsightly label from the vase before photographing it. Pl. 48.5-6 (64186) Italiote miniature hydria. It is curious, and uncommented on as to why the only comparison for this vase should come from this site far removed from Italy.

Pl. 50.3-4 (64086) Gnathian stemless kylix. It should be noted in the text that the middle trail is shorter than the outer ones.

Pl. 51.1-2, 3, 4 and 5 (respectively 64136, 64167, 64164, without number) ‘Etruscan’ aryballoi should be listed as Italo-Corinthian as are all of the cited parallels.

Pl. 52. The vases on this plate are listed as Etruscan bucchero, but are they impasto or sotile? The photographs and the cited parallels suggest that it is sotile, but the text does not make this clear.


1. See Michael M. Eisman, “Archaic and early classical Red-Figure Vases in the collection of the Eretz Israel Museum,” Israel – People and Land, Yearbook of the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, Vol. 7-8 (new series) 1990-1993, pp 71-76 (in Hebrew) and 11*-12* for an English summary.