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White Ground: Early Phase

On an Early lekythos in Berlin (Berlin F 2443;

) the composition is expanded.1 A woman on the left in a sleeveless chiton (

) hands over a child to a woman in chiton and mantle seated in a klismos at the right (

), who raises her hands to receive the baby. At the left a sakkos hangs on the wall behind the first woman (

), and a mirror, an oinochoe, and part of a kantharos hang above the seated woman (

). Second white is used for the flesh of all three, and the baby wears a band of amulets across his chest. The color for the chitons is lost, but the black for the seated figure's mantle is preserved. The painter's color palette changed during the course of his career, and later he normally colored the mantle red. The outlines at this time are painted in brown, and the palmettes on the shoulder and the ornament are often in black. The scheme of palmettes on this lekythos (

) are similar to that on the painter's red-figure lekythoi.

Between the figures is an inscription that reads: "Dromippos, son of Dromokleidos is fair." This type of inscription, referred to as a 'kalos name,' is normally found on the artist's Early and Middle white-ground lekythoi. The names he favored on Early white-ground besides Dromippos include Diphilos the son of Melanopos and Lichas the son of Samieus, and on Middle, Hygiaion and Axiopeithes the son of Alkimachos. None appears on his Late work. Lichas and Kleinias also appear on his Early red-figure work and Axiopeithes on his Middle. Several other names appear once on vases in either technique. These names help to define the stages of the painter's career, and there is a greater variety of 'kalos names' on the Achilles Painter's works than on any other ancient vase-painter's.

It is interesting that all the white-ground inscriptions are stoichedon and in tabella form, a by now old-fashioned format for those on stone. Several other vase painters used it occasionally, but more than three-quarters of the known examples are by the Achilles Painter, so he clearly set the standard. Their use may reflect the political climate which led to the passing of Perikles' citizenship law.2

1 ARV2, 995, 118; Para., 438; Beazley Addenda 2, 312.

2 So H. A. Shapiro, "Kalos Inscriptions with Patronymic," ZPE 68 (1987) 107-18; but see also F. Lissarrague, "La stèle avant la lettre," AnnArchStorAnt 10 (1988) 97-105.

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