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The Niobid Painter and the Group of Polygnotos

Polygnotos signed five vases. Beazley considered him to have been a pupil of the Niobid Painter,1 and to have inherited a preference for large pots and epic combat subjects from his famous Early Classical teacher. Subjects such as the Amazonomachy, Centauromachy, and scenes from Trojan epic, popular with the Niobid Painter and his workshop, were taken over by Polygnotos,2 as were more restrained subjects, including, for example, the departure of a warrior. Vases by Polygnotos such as his pelike in the Louvre with Apollo and Tityos (Louvre G 3753 and his calyx krater in Duke University (Durham 1964.274 with the Mission of Triptolemos are close in style to the Niobid Painter and are therefore probably early works.

Some of the other members of the Group of Polygnotos appear to have learned directly from the Niobid Painter as well. The Hector Painter and the Lykaon Painter, for example, paint in a style that is still close to the Niobid Painter's work, and also to early work by Polygnotos, suggesting that these three trained side by side in the Niobid Painter's shop. The Hector and Lykaon Painters continue some of the Niobid Painter's subjects as well, among them the departure of a warrior. These rather typical Athenian family scenes were sometimes "heroized" by giving the figures names from Trojan epic, as on the Lykaon Painter's amphora in New York (New York 06.1021.1165 and the Hector Painter's name vase in the Vatican (Vatican City, Museo Gregoriano Etrusco Vaticano 16570),6 a practice followed as well by anonymous members of the group such as the painter of an amphora in Philadelphia (Philadelphia 30-44-4;



7 where the warrior's father is named Priamos.

All of these early Polygnotan painters showed an originality that distinguished them from other members of the Niobid Painter's workshop, inventing compositions or choosing subjects not seen among the works of their teacher or his fellows. The stamnos by the Hector Painter in Munich showing Nike giving water to a bull (Munich 2412;


),8 a late work by the painter which will be discussed further below, is an example. Similarly, the Lykaon Painter has given us a unique representation of Odysseus and the shade of Elpenor, a scene from the Odyssey, on his pelike in Boston (Boston 34.79; CB no. 111;



).9 The Elpenor scene is one of the few Polygnotan compositions to show the variations of groundline that were characteristic of the famous wall painter Polygnotos, for whom our vase painter may well have been named. This treatment of landscape may have been transmitted to the Lykaon Painter through the vases of the Niobid Painter, who uses uneven groundlines on his name vase, and if so it provides further evidence for the direct association of the two painters and for an early chronological position for the Lykaon Painter within the Polygnotan Group.

The mature style of Polygnotos developed from its Early Classical sources to a more Classical form under the influence of the sculptures of the Parthenon, especially its Frieze (see the Parthenon Frieze). The influence is apparent in drapery style and details of pose, in the relative proportions of horses and men, and in a quiet calm that pervades even active narrative subjects. Vases such as the stamnos in Oxford by Polygnotos with the Dioskouroi (Oxford 1916.6810 owe an obvious debt to the horsemen of the Parthenon Frieze. Drapery on vases such as his amphora in London with the Mission of Triptolemos (London E 28111 clearly shows a development from that of his Duke University krater, and this can, in its increased complexity and fluidity, also be traced to the Parthenon. The classical restraint with which Kassandra faces her attacker on the krater by Polygnotos in the Getty Museum12 reflects the Olympian calm of the Parthenonian procession. Other members of the Group of Polygnotos were even more profoundly affected by the Parthenon sculptures than was Polygnotos. The Peleus Painter, for example, whom Beazley saw as very close in style to the Hector Painter,13 adopts the three-quarter view of figures and faces and the stately rhythms of the Parthenon Frieze in vases such as his name vase with the wedding procession of Peleus and Thetis in Ferrara (Ferrara, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Spina 2893 (T 617)).14 The Kleophon Painter,15 who was the leading member of the second generation of Polygnotan painters, was the painter most thoroughly imbued with the spirit of the Parthenon sculpture, either inside the Polygnotan workshop or outside it. The procession to Apollo on his famous volute krater in Ferrara echoes the feeling of the Parthenon Frieze procession more closely than any other surviving vase, while the same painter's stamnoi in Munich (Munich 2415;

16 and St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg, Hermitage Museum 1148 (formerly 809 and St. 1428)17 showing the departure of a warrior are the essence of classical idealism.

1 On the Niobid Painter, see ARV2, 598-608, 1661; Para., 394-96; Beazley Addenda 2, 265-67; Webster 1935; M. Prange, Der Niobidenmaler und seine Werkstatt (Frankfurt 1989).

2 For lists of such subjects in the two workshops, see Matheson 1993, Appendix 2.

3 ARV2, 1032, no. 54; Beazley Addenda 2, 318; CVA, Paris, Musée du Louvre 6 (France 9) pl. 42, 1-4 and 6-8; LIMC, II, 311, Apollo no. 1073, and 628, pl. 523, Artemis no. 1009 (side B).

4 Para., 442; LIMC, IV, 874, Demeter no. 362.

5 ARV2, 1044, no. 1; Para., 444; Beazley Addenda 2, 320; LIMC, I, 839, pl. 667, Antimachos (unique), and 852, pl. 677, Antiochos no. 2. The figures are all named: ΝΕΠΤΟΛΕΜΟΣ... ΑΝΤΙΜΑΧΟΣ... ΚΑΛΛΙΟΠΕ... ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΣ.

6 ARV2, 1036, no. 1, 1679; Beazley Addenda 2, 318; LIMC, IV, 476, Hekabe no. 17, and 485, pl. 284, Hektor no. 19. Two of the figures are named: ΚΑΛΟΣ ΕΚΤΩΡ ... ΕΚΑΒΗ.

7 ARV2, 1058, no. 113; LIMC, IV, 485, Hektor no. 18; the other figures are not named.

8 ARV2, 1936, no. 5, 1679; CVA, Munich, Museum Antiker Kleinkunst 5 (Germany 20) pl. 247,2, pl. 249,3-4; Para., 443; Beazley Addenda 2, 318.

9 ARV2, 1045, no. 2; C& B, II 86-93, 103; Para., 444; Beazley Addenda 2, 320.

10 Oxford, Ashmolean Museum 1916.68; ARV2, 1028, no. 6; Beazley Addenda 2, 317; CVA, Oxford, Ashmolean Museum 1 (Great Britain 3) pls. 29, 1-2, and 30, 1-2; LIMC, III, 569, pl. 456, Dioskouroi no. 2.

11 ARV2, 1030, no. 36; Beazley Addenda 2, 317; CVA, London, British Museum 3 (Great Britain 4) pl. 16, 2.

12 Matheson 1993, figs 1a-c.

13 On the Peleus and Hector Painters, see also Y. Korshak, "Der Peleusmaler und sein Gefährte, der Hektormaler," AntK 23 (1980) 124-36.

14 ARV2, 1038, no. 1, 1679; Para., 443; E.G. Pemberton, "The Name Vase of the Peleus Painter," JWalt (1977) 63-72, figs. 1-5; Beazley Addenda 2, 319; LIMC, II, 144, Aphrodite no. 1505, and 287, pl. 259, Apollo no. 245; LIMC V 323, Hermes no. 434.

15 In addition to Beazley and Isler-Kerenyi (supra n. 1) see M. Gaulandi, "Il Pittore di Kleophon," Arte Antica e Moderne 5 (1962) 341-83, and "Il Pittore di Kleophon rinvenute a Spina," Arte Antica e Moderne 5 (1962) 227-60; K.F. Felten, Thanatos- und Kleophon Maler: Weissgründige und rotfigurige Vasenmalerei der Parthenonzeit (Munich 1971); E. De Miro, "Nuovi Contributi sul Pittore di Kleophon," ArchCl 20 (1968) 239-48.

16 ARV2, 1143, no. 2, 1684; CVA, Munich, Museum Antiker Kleinkunst 5 (Germany 20) 41, pl. 256, 1 and 257, 1-2, pl. 258, 1-3; Para., 455; Beazley Addenda 2, 334; LIMC, IV, 486, pl. 285, Hektor no. 27 (as Hektor, Andromache, Priam, and Hekabe; the figures are not inscribed).

17 ARV2, 1143, no. 3; Para., 455; Beazley Addenda 2, 334; Gaulandi, "Il Pittore di Kleophon" (supra n. 27) pl. 107a-b.

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