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Overview: vertical handle left

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Overview: vertical handle right

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Overview: vertical handle rear

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Main panel: charioteer

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Main panel: charioteer and horses

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Main panel: horses

Collection: Beloit College, Wright Museum of Art
Summary: Racing chariot and driver
Ware: Attic Black Figure
Painter: In the manner of the Antimenes Painter
Context: Said to be from Cemetery near Athens
Date: ca. 510 BC

H. 36.1 cm., W. including handles 36.1 cm., W. 30.0 cm., H. of picture zone 15.1 cm., D. of mouth 15.4 cm., D. of base 13.0 cm.

Primary Citation: Moon 1979, 120-121 no. 68
Shape: Hydria
Beazley Number: 5185
Region: Attica
Period: Late Archaic


Four pairs of ancient drill-holes across top of picture and under handle A/B; minor surface pitting; encrustation on white of charioteer's garment.

Decoration Description:

Interior of neck and outer edge of lip both glazed; the top and underside of lip and the inside and roots of handles are reserved; resting surface and underside of foot reserved.

Racing chariot and driver (r.). Added red: red fillet around neck of vase; breast-bands, line on tails and manes of horses, hair, beard of charioteer (red badly discolored). Added white: charioteer's robe; lotus chain above scene — 23 buds joined alternately top and bottom with tendrils.

This vase is said to have been found in a cemetery in Athens. This may strengthen recent opinion about special uses for the hydria, in funerary rites, either to contain the ashes of the deceased (Diehl 1964, infra, p. 146) or to hold drinking water for the deceased. Hydriai were sometimes found lying on their sides at burials in sacrificial trenches. It cannot be documented that hydriai at gravesites actually contained water or ashes but a few were found upright (Diehl 1964, p. 149). For his libations to Teiresias, Odysseus Odyssey (XI, 32) beckons the seer with mead, wine and water, poured into a trench; elsewhere in the Odyssey, in his digression about Tantalos, Homer suggests the importance of food and drink for the dead (Hom. Od. 11.583 ff).

The pairs of holes across the panel on the Beloit vase are ancient repairs, indicating, along with its find spot, that this hydria was highly prized by its owner. This particular shape for a water jug seems to be innovative, c. 510 B.C., along with the stamnos and pelike. New vase shapes appear about the same time as Athenian democracy. Kalpis, another word for hydria, seen more often in poetry, is the term applied by specialists to this more compact, unified form with neck and shoulder forming a continuous curve (to compare the older form with off-set neck, see Moon 1979, no. 66). Because this shape appears late in the sixth century, black-figure examples, especially good ones, are scarce. More unusual still are the proportions of the Beloit vase.

The vase is as wide as it is tall. L. D. Caskey, who studied such phenomena, was convinced that the ancient Greek potter had certain formulae and schemes for proportion worked out, predetermined, and that as the pot was thrown, measurements were checked with calipers and corrected to insure the precision of the design. In a letter to Beloit College, November 2, 1934, Caskey explains, "The ratios seem to show that your vase conforms throughout to combinations of squares and rectangles which can be compared, with its common ratio of 1.2071, to a black-figure hydria discussed in Caskey 1922, no. 57, p. 102 with introductory remarks on p. 21."

The attribution to the Manner of the Antimenes Painter was made by Charles Seltman, in whose collection of antiquities this particular hydria remained only for a short time; a Panathenaic amphora in the Louvre F 281 (CVA, France 8, Louvre 5, pls. 2.2 and 2.9) may be by the same painter. The suitability of shape and decoration are here well calculated; the arc to the charioteer's back and neck for instance, gracefully repeats the rhythms of the shape immediately adjacent. For the hydria: Diehl 1964.

Shape Description:

Shape is innovative, c. 510 B.C. It is a more compact, unified form with neck and shoulder forming a continuous curve. Due to the late appearance of this shape, black figure examples are rare. More unusual still are the proportions of this vase: it is as wide as it is tall.


Moon No. 68

Collection History:

Purchased from Charles Seltman.

Sources Used:

Moon 1979, no. 68, pp. 120-121