Side B: overview of main panel and neck

Collection: Indiana University Art Museum
Summary: Sides A and B: horse protome on panel, dolphin on neck.
Ware: Attic Black Figure
Painter: Attributed to the Painter H1
Context: Possibly from Etruria
Date: ca. 560 BC - ca. 550 BC

H. 38.5 cm., W. 24.2 cm., volume 7 liters.

Primary Citation: Para, 10
Shape: Neck amphora
Region: Etruria
Period: Archaic

Date Description:

Horse head amphorae all seem to have been produced during the first half of the sixth century. The shape of this vase points to a date of 560-550.

Decoration Description:

Panel: horse protome facing right, including forelegs. The horse is shown with halter, consisting of cheek-strap and noseband joined at obtuse angles by ring of concentric circles slightly flattened into triangular form. Neck: dolphin facing left. Added red on mask of dolphin, individually applied to strands of horse's mane, and for iris of eye. On Side B, the same, with minor differences, especially in the zoologically incorrect representation of the dolphin with ventral fin.

This vase has been included in the recent studies of horse-head amphorae by Birchall (Birchall 1972, 57, 62) and Picozzi (Picozzi 1971, p. 44), without analysis, as "Swiss, Private Collection" and "Bellinzona, Private Collection." Beazley (Para., 10) and Moore (Moore 1971, A69, 22) also published the vase. It should be added to a group of three vases,Taranto 4349, Louvre CP 10622, and Athens Eph. G 1144, by Painter H1. Birchall and Picozzi independently identified two of these vases (Taranto 4349 and Louvre CP 10622) as by a single hand. Birchall found them related in style to the Painter of the Cabinet des Médailles horse-head (Birchall 1971, p. 52). Picozzi (Picozzi 1971, p. 57) at first put the vases near her Painter B (Birchall's Painter of the Syracuse horse-head). Subsequently Picozzi agreed with Birchall that the painter of the two vases belonged near the painter of Cabinet des Médailles 204 (Birchall's Painter of the Cabinet des Médailles horse-head), whom she named Painter H (Picozzi 1972, p. 383). Picozzi added the vase in Athens, Eph. G 1144 to Taranto 4349 and Louvre CP 10622, and named the painter of these three vases Painter H1 (loc. cit.). With the addition of the Indiana University horse-head neck-amphora, four vases can be attributed to Painter H1, for whom a more descriptive name will be suggested below.

Painter H1 is an artist of interesting stylistic contrasts, on the one hand displaying a careful, precise draftsmanship, especially in incision, and on the other hand seeking monumentality and daring the unconventional. His horses are large, or at least tall (Athens Eph. G 1144), and come to, or overlap the edge of a broad panel with double-curved sides. The neck of the horse is strongly rounded, the head slightly dropped. The eleven or twelve strands of the mane sweep down vertically in reversed curves almost to the bottom of the protome. The two incised lines marking each strand are carefully drawn in, parallel down to their ends, and are exceptionally regular in shape and spacing. The strands are thus open at the bottom, rather than being drawn to a point. The section of the mane in front of the ear is formed by three incised lines (Indiana A and B; Taranto A and B) which cut across the cheek-band. The ear is horizontal, narrow, neatly pointed where the tip is clearly shown, and the concha may or may not be indicated even on the same vase. The eye, placed vertically, is formed by two concentric circles extended by opposed triangles. The ample nostril is placed near the edge of the muzzle and is roughly triangular in shape. Except for the vase in Athens, which has a chin-strap, the halter is simple, consisting of a cheek-strap and noseband joined at obtuse angles by a neatly incised double ring.

Two of the four amphorae attributed to Painter H1, the exhibited vase and Athens Eph. G 1144, are unusual in their decoration. Horse-head amphorae are commonly of type B; however, in addition to the Indiana vase, four neck-amphorae (one fragmentary) are preserved. The three complete examples have neither neck decoration nor base-rays, which are both found on the Indiana University vase. It should be noted that panel neck-amphorae of this period, other than horse-heads, often do have figural decoration on the reserved neck and a frieze of base-rays. Another atypical feature of the Indiana vase is the secondary image of a dolphin on each side of the neck. With rare exceptions, dolphins occur in well-fixed contexts in Attic black-figure painting. As decoration, they serve as fillers beneath handles; in small groups, as on the tondo of the cup from Gordion in Berlin, Berlin Inv. 4604; or in elegant friezes, most notably on Nikosthenic pottery. Possibly with a more specific emblematic significance they appear commonly, singly or in pairs, as a shield device, painted white. As attributes they are found in representations of Poseidon, Nereus, and Triton. Brought into prominence as a single, monumental image, as in the exhibited vase, the dolphin is highly unusual.

Painter H1 also departs from common practice by adding forelegs to the horse protome. The inclusion of forelegs on horse protomai was preferred by Corinthian artists and appears frequently on aryballoi and alabastra of the late seventh and early sixth century B.C. The forelegs on facing horse protomai decorating the neck of a late seventh century B.C. amphora from Vari by the Lion Painter (Athens, NM 16393) indicate that the motif was transmitted to Attica. Lion, bull, panther, and Pegasus protomai with forelegs all occur in Attic black-figure painting. Horse protomai with forelegs are harder to find. Perhaps of particular relevance to the Indiana horse-head is one of the rare examples: a neck-amphora from Vulci in Munich, (Munich 1483), which has shield devices with the same motifs — in one case a horse protome with forelegs and on a second shield, two facing dolphins. Among the extant horse-head amphorae, only one, or possibly two, both by Painter H1, have forelegs.

The amphora in Athens, Athens Eph. G 1144, known to me only in photographs, might show on Side A (Side B is missing and restored at that point) the same anomalous feature. A horizontal, forked line emerges from the lower front of the protome and runs parallel to the bottom edge of the panel. This line may be the trace of a hesitantly attempted, repainted or poorly fired foreleg. If closer examination reveals this suggestion to be indeed correct, Painter H1 could be renamed the Foreleg Painter. The Athens vase is unconventional in another aspect. Unlike all other horse-head amphorae of type B, the body panel is extended up to neck level where it is decorated with a double palmette-lotus festoon. It is interesting that the unusual features of the Indiana University and Athens vases, other than the forelegs and the dolphins, are elements common in vases other than horse-heads. It is likely that Painter H1 usually decorated other types of vases, and when turning to the horse-head amphora carried over set habits of design. One could also propose that he was an inventive experimenter attempting to free the limited system of decoration of the traditional horse-head amphorae to respond to the taste for greater decorativeness toward the middle of the sixth century B.C. It is possible that the palmette-lotus motif of the Athens vase may permit Painter H1 to be identified as an artist known from other vases where the same motif appears.

Large horse-head amphorae were primarily, but not exclusively, used as funerary vases, serving as cinerary containers, tomb markers, and grave goods. By the Archaic Period, the funerary and chthonian association of the horse had long been entrenched in Greek culture. The sacrifice and entombment of horses, as part of the funerary rite in some cases, and the frequent appearance of horses on funerary vases of the Geometric period are but two reflections of the strength of this association.

The conjunction of dolphin and horse on the Indiana University horse-head amphora is further support for an interpretation first suggested by Malten (infra) that on horse-head amphorae, the horse signifies Poseidon. Creato tamer of the horse, Poseidon was a chthonian deity by virtue of his dwelling deep under the sea. Swirling against and under the land, the sea had its energy-filled violence symbolized by the horse, its beneficent aspects by the dolphin-both attributes of Poseidon. As ravisher of Demeter in the guise of a horse, and in his assimilation into Erechtheus, Poseidon shared her association with death and regeneration. Poseidon was both gaie-ochos (earth supporter) and enosichthon (earth shaker). In his horse aspect he was worshipped with Athena hippia, at Kolonos in Attica, a cult transplanted from Corinth (Yalouris, infra, pp. 57 ff.). Yalouris has collected ample evidence in vase painting, coinage, and small-scale dedications, of the connection between Athena and Poseidon as elements in the myth of Bellerophon. His suggestion (ibid., p. 54) that the bearded male head which appears for example, on one side of a horse-head neck-amphora in the Louvre, (Louvre n.e 822), represents Poseidon, is explicitly supported by the grand combination of horse and dolphin on the Indiana vase.

The horse-head amphorae all seem to have been produced during the first half of the sixth century B.C. The Indiana horse-head neck-amphora is no exception, having, on the one hand, a fully developed and assured composition and draftsmanship, and on the other hand, the forelegs which relate it to the earlier Corinthian tradition. On the basis of the anatomical structure of the horse, Moore (infra) has given a dating of 575-550 B.C. The shape of the vase has its closest parallels among vases dated to the decade 560-550 B.C. An ovoid neck-amphora in Toledo, n. 74.45, painted "in the Manner of Lydos," and an amphora in Heidelberg (CVA Germany 10, Heidelberg 1, pl. 32, 1 and 2) attributed to Sakonides by Neutsch, Rumpf, and Beazley, are not far from the Indiana vase. The origin of this vase was probably Etruria, as its modern tenancy in Bellinzona would suggest. The production of neck-amphorae primarily for export to Etruscan markets after c. 575 B.C. also supports a date well into the second quarter of the sixth century B.C. for the Indiana neck-amphora.

For additional information on horse-head amphorae and their interpretation: R. Hackl, "Zwei frühattische Gefässe der Münchner Vasensammlung," JdI 22 (1907) 78-105; Malten 1914; E. Dohan, "Unpublished Vases in the University Museum, Philadelphia," AJA 38 (1934) 526-7; N. Yalouris, "Athena als Herrin der Pferde," MusHelv 7 (1950) 19-101; ABV, 15-17,Beazley Addenda 2, 1, 649; Picozzi 1972; W. Hornbostel u. al., Kunst der Antike, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg (Mainz 1977) 246; Schneider 1975, 40-45

Shape Description:

Compact ovoid neck-amphora with inverted echinus foot, echinus lip, and cylindrical handles; broad, slightly flared neck. Above the foot a frieze, 4.0 cm high, of 28 rays; reserved panel from mid-belly to top of shoulder.

Material Description:

Fabric 6 YR-6.5-5 on the Munsell scale, light reddish pink-brown to reddish yellow; structure tight with pores and inclusions of calcine and fine grog, medium-hard to soft.


Moon No. 29

Collection History:

Ex collection Dr. Athos Moretti, Bellinzona, Switzerland.

Sources Used:

Moon 1979, p. 48-50

Other Bibliography:

Para., 10; Moore 1971, A69, 22; Picozzi 1971, 44; Birchall 1972, 57, 62; Indiana University Art Museum Bulletin (1977) 47, 63.