54. 08.368 WHITE LEKYTHOS Two women PLATE XXV and FIGURE 34Height, 0.454 m.; diameter, 0.132 m. Badly broken, and discoloured by fire. The left-hand figure is lost, except for the head and neck, the right arm with the basket and fillets, and the feet. The right-hand figure is better preserved; the colour of her mantle has vanished, but most of the lines of its folds have left traces. All the remains of the picture — the outlines and the hair, as well as the dull paint of the right-hand woman's dress and the fillets — have turned to two shades of brown, without lustre, whereas the maeanders above and below and the decoration on the shoulder show the same brown glaze as appears on no. 52, no. 53, no. 55 (Boston 13.201, Boston 13.187 and Boston 93.106). The shoulder-pattern is of the type regularly found on the white lekythoi by the Achilles painter; in this case the six leaves in dull paint with palmettes are well preserved, as shown in figure 34. Ann. Rep. 1908, p. 61. Fairbanks, Athenian White Lekythoi, ii, p. 250, no. 44a, Pl. XXXVI. Beazley, V.A., p. 164. Att. V., p. 379, no. 41. A woman standing in front view with head turned to left, looking at her companion, who stands facing her, holding a long, brown fillet in her right hand, and in her left a large shallow basket over which numerous other fillets are hung. Three of these are drawn in outline, dotted, and with bands round them at intervals, like those on no. 55 (Boston 93.106); the remaining seven are in solid colour, now brown. The pose and costume of the woman at the right are exactly like those of the corresponding figure on no. 52 (Boston 13.201). Her chiton is in solid colour, now light brown, with folds indicated by darker brown lines. The fold lines of her himation now show as white against the discoloured surface. The hair of both figures is drawn in numerous fine lines of lighter and darker brown, giving an unusually soft effect. About 440-430 B.C. Beazley's attribution to the Achilles painter is indisputable. But the lekythos shows certain peculiarities which distinguish it from both the earlier and the later series of white lekythoi by this master. It is of unusual size, and its contour resembles that of later white lekythoi, in that the greatest diameter is at a lower level than, for example, in no. 52, no. 53, no. 55 (Boston 13.201, Boston 13.187, Boston 93.106). The decorative patterns also differ from the normal. The single ground-line found on most of the other examples is replaced by a simple running maeander, such as is sometimes used by the Achilles painter below his red-figured pictures, e.g. no. 48, Pl. XXII (Boston 01.8077), but appears otherwise only once on a white lekythos by his hand.1 But the most significant peculiarity is in the technique of the picture, which seems to be without glaze lines. Fairbanks explains this as due to the action of fire. But it is difficult to see why every trace of lustre should have disappeared from the outlines of the figures, while the glaze of the adjoining maeanders remains unimpaired. Moreover, the drawing of the hair is so different from that on no. 52, no. 53, no. 55 (Boston 13.201, Boston 13.187, Boston 93.106) that it seems impossible to assume it to have been done in glaze paint. And certain details of the faces are without parallels on other lekythoi by the Achilles painter: the eyes of both women have a broad stroke in paler colour almost filling the space between the upper eyelid and the eyebrow; and the red of the lips is indicated by dabs of the same paler tone. The lekythos would thus seem to belong, not to Fairbanks' class V, but to his class VI, 2, which is distinguished by having the picture drawn in dull paint, and the subsidiary decoration in glaze. One other white lekythos, which has been attributed to the Achilles painter, seems to go with ours technically, though artistically it is a less important work.2 Riezler describes its technique as follows: 'Das Stück ist stark verbrannt, wodurch die Farben verändert sind; es ist auch noch Brand nach dem Bruch nachweisbar. Die Zeichnung ist jetzt grauschwarz, ins Oliv spielend, und wirkt glatt und hart wie Firnis, ist aber doch, wie die etwas andere Oberfläche der Firnislinien um den Mäander lehrt, matte Farbe.' Our lekythos thus suggests that the Achilles master may have been the originator of the later technique with pictures in dull colours.34
J. D. Beazley, JHS 34 (1914), p. 226, no. 43; ARV, p. 645, no. 179; ARV2, p. 1001, no. 210; Felten 1971, p. 16, note 20; Kurtz 1975, p. 46, note 13; Wehgartner 1985, p. 40, note 81; J. Reilly, Hesperia 58 (1989), p. 441, no. 85.