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The Geras Painter

One painter with whom the Harrow Painter was probably acquainted, although no definite workshop connection can be established, is the Geras Painter, another pot specialist active in the period 480-465 B.C.1 There is a kinship between the two painters that is difficult to demonstrate in terms of specific details, but which is discernible in their general approach to representation. Like brothers, they went their own ways, but in spirit were never far apart. Only half as many vases have been attributed to the Geras Painter, and although he too decorated a variety of shapes, his pelikai outnumber his column-kraters and amphorae put together.2 He had a greater taste for myth than the Harrow Painter and is a more intriguing personality. He seems, in fact, to have been something of an eccentric, with a taste for unusual subjects and a quirky approach to more standard themes; for example, he shows a maenad chasing a satyr, instead of the other way round.3 It is not certain that this humor was always intentional, for he is nothing if not sincere, and his work has an earnest charm that overcomes his shortcomings as an artist. Although capable of careful work, he was not a good draughtsman, and his line can be loose and imprecise. His satyrs are memorable, his gods less so, though the seated Zeus served by Ganymede is an exception (Louvre G 224).4 Herakles was a favorite subject, and he delighted in representing the hero in unusual situations or activities, or performing canonical deeds in an unusual manner.

The origins and career of the Geras Painter are less cloudy than the Harrow Painter's. He seems to have trained in the workshop of the Nikoxenos and Eucharides Painters, with whose sour-faced figures his characters have a definite kinship. Thereafter, he was for some years a member of what may be called the Syleus Workshop, after its principal artist, the Syleus Painter, and the other painters of the so-called Syleus Sequence.5 Also affiliated with this workshop at various times and in varying degrees were the Argos Painter, the Flying-Angel Painter, the Tyszkiewicz Painter, the Triptolemus Painter, the Pan Painter, and the Painter of Louvre G 238. Sometime in the mid-470s, the Geras Painter moved to another workshop where he and his more talented associate, the Pan Painter, produced small column-kraters and a series of small pelikai with unframed pictures.6

1 For the Geras Painter, see ARV2, 285-87 and 1642; Para., 355; Beazley Addenda 2, 209; Padgett 1989, 1-134; D. A. Amyx, "A New Pelike by the Geras Painter," AJA 49 (1945) 508-518; and C. Bérard, "Une nouvelle péliké du Peintre de Geras," AntK 9 (1966) 93-100. To the 37 vases attributed to the painter by Beazley, Padgett and others have added another twenty.

2 32 pelikai, 11 column-kraters, 3 neck-amphorae, 1 amphora of type A, 3 hydriai, 2 stamnoi, 2 volute-kraters, 2 unclassified pot fragments, and one oinochoe of shape 5A.

3 Naples 164331; ARV2, 287, 25.

4 ARV2, 285, 1.

5 The Painter of the Munich Amphora, the Gallatin Painter, and the Diogenes Painter. See ARV2, 245-255.

6 For this "Class of Small Geras Painter Pelikai" (Class XX), which includes several works by the Pan Painter and his follower, the Perseus Painter, see Becker 1977, 61-70.

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