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Side B: overview

Collection: Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois
Summary: Shoulder (Sides A and B): man driving horses between Eyes of Horus.
Ware: Attic Black Figure
Painter: Attributed to the Antimenes Painter
Date: ca. 520 BC - ca. 500 BC

H. 41.5 cm., D. 27.0 cm.

Shape: Neck amphora
Beazley Number: 5183
Period: Late Archaic


Good condition, some mottling, some fading of paint on Side B. Small areas of paint flaked in various places.

Decoration Description:

Neck, top of rim, band below figure panel, lower body, line at base of foot reserved. Red groundline below figures, borders of reserved band below panels, in tongues and in details of figures; white in eyes and chiton of groom on side A. Neck has addorsed palmettes with lotus buds between the open chain across center. Tongue pattern, alternately red and black, separated by black lines on upper shoulder; black rays on lower body. The well-shaped amphora has a gently rounding shoulder, a distinct neck with a flaring, flat-topped rim, and simple handles extending from the neck to the shoulder. The foot is flanged with a fillet connecting it to the body.

On both sides the figure design is restricted to the shoulder, and shows a man driving four horses with a large Egyptian Eye of Horus on either side. The horses are in rapid movement toward the right with all forelegs off the ground. The heads of the trace horses are in profile facing right, while those of the yoke horses are frontal, noses touching. The bodies are rather short and the legs disproportionately thin. The paint density on the legs is irregular, showing black blobs for fetlock and hoof with very dilute strokes connecting these elements. Incised details on the bodies are also irregular, barely suggesting the musculature; head details are sketchy. The manes were probably all originally red, but much of the color has flaked away; long red tails stand out behind the rumps. The profile heads show a cheekstrap and noseband; although bridles extend from the open mouths, there is no trace of a bit. Breastbands, originally red, appear on all four horses.

Since the men's legs are not shown, each must be riding one of the yoke horses. Both are beardless youths in short-sleeved chitons; on Side A the chiton was originally white, now largely flaked away, while that on Side B is black. The peaked and brimmed cap worn by the rider on Side B is unusual. Each rider holds a long stick or goad in his right hand, while the left arm is apparently stretched behind the horses, and the manner in which the four beasts are controlled is obscure.

The Horus eyes are identical in execution: black ground, incised circle, black ring, white ring (now partly abraded), black center with dot. A thin eyebrow curves over each eye.

The execution is hasty with almost all the incisions rough and irregular, and the frontal horse heads are particularly inept in drawing. The unequal density of paint on the horses' legs has been mentioned, and it is noticeable that both the applied red and white paint are usually flaked or faded. The subsidiary designs are also blotchy and ill-drawn. However, the horse groups are very lively and the idea of rapid motion is well-conveyed. The great framing eyes make this a closed composition although the figure groups are open. The spacing is fairly good with the focus clearly on the active central group.

This type of neck amphora with a flaring rim is used from soon after 550 B.C. until the early fifth century; the elaborate neck ornament seen here is characteristic for the form.

Black-figure vases with design restricted to the shoulder are uncommon, and most of those which have been preserved are combined with the Horus eyes (see Champaign 70.8.1, for "eyes"). A group of such vases has been assigned by Beazley to "the Antimenes Painter and his circle," and while the group has much in common, differences in detail indicate different hands, and imprecise attribution is prudent. All show mediocre draftsmanship with many of the same ineptitudes visible on the Krannert amphora.

The quadriga, or chariot, drawn by four horses, was used by the Greeks for racing and apparently also in battle. The pose shown here, with trace horses' heads in profile, facing in the same direction, and yoke horses' heads frontal is believed to indicate a quadriga in the act of turning, a supposition corroborated by the fact that the chariot wheels are usually shown as oval rather than round in an attempt at foreshortening. However, the Krannert vase shows no sign of a chariot on either side; this may be ineptitude on the part of the artist, but might be intended to show the exercising or training of horses rather than a race. If so, the subject would be a counterpart to the scenes of athletes training in the gymnasium or palaestra.

Shape Description:

The flaring rim on this type of neck amphora is used from soon after 550 B.C. until the early 5th century. The well-shaped amphora has a gently rounding shoulder, a distinct neck with a flaring, flat-topped rim, and simple handles extending from the neck to the shoulder. The foot is flanged with a fillet connecting it to the body.


Moon No. 57

Collection History: Gift of Harlan E. Moore.

Sources Used: Moon 1979, no. 57, pp. 98-99

Other Bibliography: For similar amphorae with design restricted to shoulder: ABV, 276.691f.; and Para, 212; also CVA, USA 14, Boston 1, p. 37 and pl. 49 (Boston 89.258); CVA, GB 5, British Museum 4, pl. 52:2 (London B 216). For the shape see H. Bloesch, JHS 71 (1951) 29-39. For horses and horsemanship see Anderson 1961.