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Baltimore, Hopkins 9022

Lekythos in Six Technique ca. 500 B.C.

9022. Ht, 18.9 cm; diam mouth, 4 cm; diam foot, 5 cm. Mended from many pieces, with parts of handle and rim restored.

Rim and inside of neck glazed. Glazed handle, with underside reserved. On shoulder is chain of lotus buds, with stalks linking every three buds; band of tongues above.


Satyr strides in right profile, left leg advanced. Right outstretched hand grasps right wrist of a maenad, while left arm is outstretched toward her genitals. Maenad advances in left profile, left leg advanced and both arms outstretched. Contour and interior markings of satyr incised. Delicate incisions for maenad's eye, brow, hairline, arms, back left leg, and back of right thigh. Interior of maenad was painted white.

Two red lines above scene; one red line beneath figures as groundline. Foot in two degrees, glazed except for reserved side of top step and underside.

In Six technique the background is in black glaze, like the background in red-figure vasepainting, but the artist works the figures either by incising their contours through the black glaze or by applying white, red, or brown paint on top of the glaze before the vase is fired.1 The painter may, as in the case with our maenad, render a figure entirely or mostly in color, using incision only for details. Alternately, he may work a figure like our satyr in "outline Six," wherein all of the figure is incised and no color is added.2

The Six technique originated during the first half of the sixth century, but at first was employed only for parts of figures. Not until around 530 B.C., in the experimental atmosphere that stimulated the introduction of red-figure vasepainting, did Nikosthenes and Psiax first work entire vases in Six technique.3 In the later sixth century the technique was most popular in the workshops of the Sappho4 and Diosphos Painters,5 artists who were influenced, and perhaps trained, by the Edinburgh Painter. The Sappho and Diosphos Painters were primarily black-figure artists who painted a variety of shapes but specialized in lekythoi, which they executed in Six technique as well as in black-figure and white-ground. The Diosphos Painter is credited with over thirty-six lekythoi; the Sappho Painter is assigned only eleven lekythoi and one hydria.

Our vase is best paralleled by work of the Sappho Painter. Although both the Sappho and the Diosphos Painters used lekythoi of the DL type, those of the Sappho Painter have the shallow mouths and squat, full bodies with tapering profiles of the Hopkins vase, in contrast to the deeper mouths and straight-sided cylinders preferred by the Diosphos Painter.6 The stalks in the bud patterns of the Sappho Painter generally skip two buds, as on our example, while those of the Diosphos Painter usually skip only one, but occasionally two, and sometimes add white dots between the buds.7 The Six lekythoi of both painters have a red line beneath the scene, but the Sappho Painter almost always applies two red lines above, as on our vessel, while the Diosphos Painter may employ a checker or key pattern.8 While the Diosphos Painter often relies upon incision alone, the Sappho Painter also executes elements of his representation in added white.9 Our vase is especially similar to a lekythos by the Sappho Painter in New York on which a satyr, worked entirely by incision, crouches amid an amphora, serpent, and rocks, all of which are rendered in white.10

On the Hopkins vase the incisions for the maenad are so much lighter and more delicate than those for the satyr that they could not have been intended to be seen through the white paint and thus must be preliminary incisions intended as guidelines for the artist. On this lekythos the artist carefully respected these sketches in his final application of color, but on other Six vases the preliminary incisions are often disregarded.11

The Sappho Painter used Six technique early in his career, and certainly the heavy thighs and strict profile of the satyr support a date for our vase of ca. 500 B.C.

1 Boardman 1974, 178; J. Six, Gazette Archéologique 13 (1888): 193-294; Haspels 1936, 106ff.; P. E. Corbett, JHS 85 (1965):24; Kurtz 1975, 116-19.

2 Kurtz 1975, 116, 119.

3 Boardman 1974, 178.

4 ABV, 507-8; Haspels 1936, 94-130, 227-28; Para., 246-48.

5 ABV, 508-11; Haspels 1936, 94-130, 235-36; Para., 248-50. To the examples listed by Beazley, add: Hornbostel 1977, 298, no. 258; Kurtz 1975, pl. 6.4 in Columbia, Missouri. Another, surely by one of these two painters, is discussed by D. von Bothmer in Brommer Festschrift, 61, pl. 19 (New York 67.11.22).

6 Kurtz 1975, 80.

7 Haspels 1936, 94.

8 Haspels 1936, 95.

9 Kurtz 1975, 119.

10 Haspels 1936, 228, no. 43, which is the same as Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1930):136, fig. 4. (17.8 cm; New York 23.160.87).

11 P. Corbett, JHS 85 (1965):16-28, especially 24-25.

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