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Early Middle or Transitional Period: "Bare" Style

The predominant subjects of Douris' "bare" cups, athletic and courting scenes, allow Douris to experiment with drawing the male body in a variety of poses and call for less crowded compositions in which he can focus attention on the outlines of the figures and on the balance of light and dark areas. The ornament consists of reserved lines as borders. The finished product has a bare look compared with the "rich" group.

Douris' komasts on a cup in Boston (Boston 98.930;


) demonstrate his preoccupation with outline and space. They dance independently of one another, not yet united by a rhythm that leads the eye from one figure to the next. We do not sense a completed composition; rather these are separate studies of figures in different poses that have the appeal of a well-performed exercise.

The masterpiece of this period is the psykter in London with a chorus of eleven cavorting satyrs (London E 768;


; ARV2, 446, 262). Their leader, with kerykeion, boots, a Thracian cloak, and traveling hat, impersonates Hermes. The spacing of the figures creates an even flow of activity around the entire vase with the satyr dressed as Hermes as an anchor. There are two groups of three satyrs, the two lateral figures focused on the central satyr who performs a trick on the ground; additionally there are two groups of two satyrs engaged in a trick with a cup. Tricks like these occur on the Boston cup (Boston 98.930, see above) where the performers are men, not satyrs. Both compositions provided opportunities for Douris' masterly exhibition of the male figure in motion. Anatomy is detailed and precise, dilute glaze used abundantly for the inner markings such as the curly hair of the muscular divisions on the belly of the satyrs. Some of the poses have been seen previously in battle scenes, such as the satyr fallen to one knee drinking both from a wine skin and an oinochoe, the latter shown in a foreshortened front view. Others are new, such as the handstand of the satyr drinking from a cup on the ground. On both the cup and the psykter we see a figure bent sideways at the waist, his torso shown in a three-quarter view; on the psykter, the satyr kicks up his right leg behind him. Douris' signature as painter is directly above this figure, and he may have been especially proud of it; the pose occurs again for satyrs on his later cups (for example Munich 2647; ARV2, 438, 132; see below).

Beazley noted that these satyrs show the influence of the Berlin Painter.1 Anatomical details are clearly different, but, as Beazley also remarked, the two painters are similar temperamentally. Both incorporate the revolutionary advances of the Pioneers but employ them for a decorative end; their prime concern is creating an attractive design. The Berlin Painter is a purist, however, in comparison with Douris and tends not to attempt the peculiar perspective views of the body with which we see Douris experimenting.

The general effect of the psykter is of a virtuoso demonstration of draftsmanship, but upon close examination we see that the figures are not rendered realistically. For example, the two arms of the satyr performing the handstand are of unequal lengths, and the bend of the figure kicking up his leg to the side is not reflected in his chest muscles. Characteristically, Douris' manner of drawing is elegant, graceful and precise, but he decided not to strive for naturalism at the cost of elegance, and his use of perspective views and unusual poses is ultimately done for decorative effect.

1 J.D. Beazley, "The Master of the Berlin Amphora," JHS 31 (1911) 177, 291.

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