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Dionysiac Scenes

Judging from surviving vases, the most popular subject matter among Polygnotan painters was that associated with Dionysos. In this the Polygnotan Group diverges from the Niobid Painter's workshop, where Dionysiac subjects were rare. The god and his thiasos of satyrs and maenads were treated by virtually every member of the Group, in combination with a long list of subjects, both mythological and generic.

Representations by the Curti Painter, whom Beazley connected with the Peleus Painter and whose work forms a bridge to that of the Kleophon Painter, are typical.1 On the Curti Painter's name vase, a stamnos in Harvard (Harvard 1925.30.40;


),2 the bearded god walks to the right, accompanied in a torch-lit procession by two satyrs and two maenads. The god of wine bears his attributes, a thyrsos and a kantharos. The satyrs provide music on the double flute (aulos) and lyre (barbiton). One maenad carries the torch, while the other carries a second kantharos, her head thrown back in song. The procession continues on the reverse of the vase, in a less detailed style, with satyrs and a maenad carrying thyrsoi, another kantharos, and a wineskin. Such Dionysiac processions accompanying a bearded figure of the god are typical of both Early Classical and Classical representations of Dionysos. The tall, somewhat angular figures as well as the facial type of the torch-bearing maenad on the Curti Painter's stamnos derive from the Niobid Painter, but the monumental feeling and the weighty, statuesque quality of the figures show the influence of sculpture and are closer to work by the Kleophon Painter. Still later in the Polygnotan Group, in works by the Dinos Painter and his associates, Dionysiac scenes introduce the youthful unbearded Dionysos reclining with Ariadne, a type that is characteristic of fourth-century vase painting.

1 On the Curti Painter, in addition to Beazley (supra n. 1), see M. Halm-Tisserant, "Le Peintre de Curti," REA 86 (1984) 135-70.

2 ARV2, 1042, no. 1; CVA, Hoppin Collection (U.S.A. 1) pls. 14-15; LIMC, III, 455, pl. 336, Dionysos no. 350; Beazley Addenda, 320.

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