Handle, right of side A: amphora

Side A: figure on right, upper half

Side B: figure on left, lower half

Side B: figure on right, lower half

Side A: figure in center

Side B: scene at center

Collection: Cambridge, Harvard University Art Museums
Summary: Potters' workshop.
Ware: Attic Black Figure
Painter: Attributed to the Theseus Painter
Context: Said to be from Veredemnia (Ceglie Messapica)
Date: ca. 510 BC - ca. 500 BC

H. 0.174 m.

Primary Citation: ABV, 520.26; Para, 256.26; Beazley Addenda 2, 129.
Shape: Skyphos
Period: Archaic

Date Description:

The Theseus Painter's skyphoi date to his early period, before 500 B.C.


Broken and repaired, with several pieces missing, particularly on side B, where the head of the herm and portions of all three figures are lost. Half of the foot, the center of the base, and parts of the lower body are also lost. Some missing contours have been restored, most noticeably the head of the herm and the top of the mound on side B. The added color has worn off in many places. At least one fragment present in the CVA, publication of 1938 is now lost: it gave the top of the head and part of the basket of the central man on side B.

Decoration Description:

A potters' workshop. The subject is the same on both sides and continues under the handles. Under each handle is a bearded potter with his cloak around his waist. The potter under handle A/B sits on the base of a herm; the other sits or kneels behind the base of a second herm. Both potters are attaching a handle to a large belly amphora, possibly of type A judging by the size of the handles and the shape of the mouth.

Side A: In the center is a large, truncated mound of clay, with a flat top and numerous comma-shaped marks to indicate texture. A bearded man with his cloak hitched up around his loins stands in or behind the clay, gesturing with his right hand while looking back to the right; he is probably wedging the clay by trampling it with his feet. A second bearded man with a cloak around his waist stands at left; he is bent over and touching the clay, perhaps working it and removing impurities, or possibly filling the basket which lies on its side next to him. Behind and to the right of the mound is a herm on a low platform, the latter decorated with a meander in added red. One of the potters previously described sits on the back of the platform. A bearded man in a himation stands in front of the herm, his head turned back to look at the man wedging the clay, but with both arms raised to the face of the herm; possibly he is one of the owners or potters, asking the god to protect his fragile pots throughout their manufacture. The bearded herm may represent Hermes, or possibly Dionysos, as some of the vines that wander through the background of both scenes seem to originate from it.

Side B: The scene is similar to side A, being dominated by another mound of clay, this one with bands of dense cross-hatching which may indicate a different stage of preparation from the clay on the other side. As on Side A, a bearded man stands at left, bending over to work the clay; beside him is a basket lying on its side. The cloak around his waist is decorated with white dots. In the center, a man stands in or behind the mound, carrying a basket on his shoulder; he has either come to dump more clay on the mound or to gather some up, as the man at left may be doing. At right is another herm on a low, undecorated platform. Most of the herm's head is missing. A bearded man in a himation stands with his back to the herm, leaning on a walking stick and gesturing toward the men at left; he may be the owner of the workshop. Added red is used for the beards and the hair around the faces on all of the men and herms, on both sides; all wear red fillets except for the bending man on side A, who has a fillet of added white. White is also used for the fruit or blossoms on the vines.

An ivy vine framed by black stripes circles the rim. A band of tongues, alternately black and white, circles the lower body between paired, horizontal stripes. A red stripe circles the fillet between foot and body. The handles, foot, and interior are black.

Shape Description:

Skyphos of the White Heron Class, a development of the skyphoi painted by the Krokotos Group. The same shape is decorated by painters of the CHC Group; cf. Boardman 1974, figs. 181-82, 245-46, and 292.

Collection History:

David M. Robinson Bequest. Purchased in Rome. A fragment with a potter attaching an amphora handle, formerly in the Jacob Hirsch collection and not included in the CVA, of 1938, was recognized as joining by D. von Bothmer and donated by J. V. Noble (inv. 1958.19).

Sources Used:

CVA, Robinson 3.

Other Bibliography:

CVA, Robinson 3, 11-12, pls. 1-2; JHS 58 (1938) 153; Robinson exhibition catalogue 1961, no. 76; J. Z. Ziomecki, Les représentations d'artisans sur les vases attiques (Wrocaw 1975) 30 and 32, figs. 6-7; Munich 1983, 12 111, fig. 102.