BMCR 2022.11.03

Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum Deutschland, 109. Berlin, Antikensammlung ehemals Antiquarium,19

, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, Deutschland, 109. Berlin, Antikensammlung ehemals Antiquarium,19: Attisch schwarzfigurige Olpen, Oinochoen, Skyphoi und Kyathoi. München: Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2021. Pp. 80. ISBN 9783769637861. €98,00.

This volume is another excellent addition to the German series of the CVA; indeed it is the fourth where Angelika Schöne-Denkinger has been either the primary author of or the co-author of, so that it is no surprise that this new volume is of a very high and sound quality, and the scholarship is excellent. And, as we shall see, so is the quality of the production.

The Foreword provides the history of the vases in this volume, from 1828 when the first six vases—five skyphoi and an oinochoe—were purchased before the opening of the Old Museum from the Sammlung von Koller to the estate of Elisabeth Rhode in 2014.

The vast majority of the vases in this volume are Attic black-figure, which feature drinking and pouring vessels, but there are also vessels decorated in white ground and the Six’s techniques, and there are also the Red-bodied Olpai. Several vases are of great interest iconographically and white-ground, particularly the famous oinochoe by the potter Kolchos and the painter Lydos with Heracles fighting Kyknos as the main image and the vase having a false bottom, making it a so-called trick vase. Six other of the vases presented here were lost in World War II, and it is very useful to have the images of them published and/or illustrated together here, although complete coverage is not given: there are two Attic black-figure oinochoai and four black-figure skyphoi: Beilage 17, 18 and 19.

One of the black-figure skyphoi (V.I. 3283; pls. 73-74: Attic influenced black-figure) presents two scenes from the Odyssey. First on one side is the encounter between Odysseus, his men and the Cyclops, Polyphemus. Striking is the large frontal face of the Cyclops whose huge eye is caught at the moment shortly after it has been pierced by the stake that the hero and his men handle. The back side of the vessel features three Sirens standing in a row before the entrance to a cave (pl. 73).

Odysseus and the Sirens is also the subject found on a black-figure oinochoe (pls. 26-27). Here the hero stands upright and is bound while standing in his ship, as the three Sirens perched atop a rocky outcropping by the front of the vessel are tormenting him. The helmsman steers with his right hand and is seated at the back. The two companions are shown rowing feverishly.

There is a very useful Appendix of 18 vases lost from and returned to the Berlin Museum after World War II. The contents of the nine indices are useful: 1) concordance to inventory numbers, 2) plates and supplements, 3) provenances 4) dimensions 5) technical peculiarities 6) representations 7) inscriptions 8) painters, potters, and workshops 9) supplementary drawings.

Superb, as has been the standard recently for the German CVA’s, are the seventy-six color plates giving full views from different angles and details of all the vases, with the exceptions, obviously, of those that are lost.

The scene of sacrifice on the oinochoe from the Class of Altenburg 205 pl. 30 is interesting because it is not clear who or what is being sprinkled by the man in the center of the scene: the Herm, the fire on the altar, or the kanoun held by the central youth.

On a lost black-figure skyphos, F 1934, from the workshop of the Athena Painter, Beilage 17,2, there is a female creature, probably Lamia: ABV 528,44 (here, p. 73).

Measurements of the volumes of the vases, we are informed, were obtained with the help of styrofoam pellets. The bibliography for the individual entries is mainly up-to-date, except for scenes of libation, for which see now: M. Gaifman, The Art of Libation in Classical Athens (New Haven 2018). The drawings on pp. 26 and 43 provide help for understanding the relationship between the figures and the inscriptions. The 16 pages of profile drawings are given at 1:2, in what is considered the standard now, although 1:1 is still the preferred, when possible. The trademarks are given successfully as photographs.

There is interesting information about the provenance of most of the vases, many of which are connected with famous scholars and curators. For example, the phallus bird on F 2095 (pl. 60) gives its name to the Group of Berlin F 2095. Graffiti are rendered not by drawings, but by photos in the text. The manuscript is remarkably free of most editorial corrections, and all involved in the making of this volume are to be congratulated.