Baltimore, Hopkins 9260
Black-Figure Neck Amphora by the Michigan Painter
ca. 500 B.C.
9260. Ht, 21.5 cm; diam rim, 11.4 cm; diam body, 14.2 cm; diam foot,
7.5 cm. Mended from many pieces.
Upper surface of rim reserved; neck glazed inside. Glazed triple
handles with undersides reserved. Profiled ridge separating neck from body; ring
molding between body and foot. Both ridge and molding are painted red.
Glazed groundline. A bull in left profile collapses beneath the
attack of two lions. In field above is inscription ISIS.
Added red for dots in lions' manes and for streams of blood
under mouth and claws.
Two bulls drink from vessel between them. Vines above their heads
wind from base of handles.
Framed by a line above and a line beneath are three palmettes. The
central seven-petal palmette is upright, the flanking five-petal palmettes are
suspended. Two dots flank the middle leaf of the central palmette and two more
dots lie on the inner sides of the middle leaves of the side palmettes.
Band of black tongues above picture. Beneath picture is a line, then
two staggered rows of dots, double lines, rays. Foot glazed except for bottom of
sides and underside. Below handles are volutes terminating in triple lotuses.
Beneath foot is dipinto.
This vase is the work of the Michigan Painter, whom Beazley later
recognized to be identical with the Painter of Brussels R 312, an artist of the
Dot-Band Class who was active in the late sixth century.1
The painter principally worked on small neck amphorae, but he also
painted larger neck amphorae, Panathenaic amphorae, stamnoi, and at least one
On the necks of the small amphorae we find two distinct palmette patterns. In the scheme
on our example and on those vases originally attributed to the Painter of
Brussels R 312, the central seven-petal palmette is upright and enclosed by four
dots, while the flanking palmettes are suspended and have five petals each.
These later palmettes can also be seen in the ornament under the handles of
Brussels R 312. On amphorae formerly assigned to the Michigan Painter, the
central seven-petal palmette is suspended and there are no dots, while the
flanking upright palmettes have five or seven petals.
On his small neck amphorae, the Michigan Painter favors the heroic
themes popular in the late sixth century, such as the Labors of Herakles (on
examples in London2
, of Ajax and Achilles (on vases in Brussels4
), and of Peleus and Thetis (on an amphora in Boulogne6
[Boulogne no. 85
]). He is also fond of
Hermes, whom we find on another example in Boulogne7
(Boulogne no. 13
), and of komos or
Dionysiac figures, who appear on amphorae in Michigan8
The Michigan Painter was content with a limited repertory of motifs.
The bull on the Hopkins vase is almost identical with the one defeated by
Herakles on the amphora in London and is clearly inspired by black-figure
representations of the Cretan bull in combat with Herakles.10
The reverses are particularly redundant, and usually feature dancing
figures. The two women on the reverse of the Michigan amphora are almost
identical with those on the reverses of the vases in Boulogne (Boulogne 85
) and London, except for their gestures and
details like the addition of castanets. The two youths flanking the woman on the
obverse of the Michigan vase are replaced by satyrs on the reverse of the
amphora in Chicago and by women on the reverse of the example in Boulogne.
The signature characteristics of the painter were pointed out by
the stacked arcs for the knees, the emphatic engraved arcs delineating
the upper contour of the beard, and the description of the eye by means of a
circle set between short horizontal lines. Typical of his treatment of animals
are the four gashes for the ribs, the preponderance of wrinkles under the neck
and behind the forelegs, and the presence of one or two arcs on the shoulder
[e.g., on our bull, on the bull on the amphora in London, and on the horse on
the reverse of the vase in Maplewood]. On his human figures we often find two
horizontal lines for the mouth, a large shock of hair above the forehead, and an
emphatically beaked nose. The collarbone is described by a long incision
terminating in an arc, and
the ribs are delineated by a cluster of lines.
To the vases assembled by Beazley we can add a further example that
was recently on the art market in Freiburg.12
The neck pattern on that amphora is identical to the one on the Hopkins
vase. On the obverse we find Herakles fighting Nereus, a subject compatible with
this artist's known affinity for that hero. The composition and much of the
detail in the scene compare closely with the representation of Peleus and Thetis
on the amphora, Boulogne 85
. On the reverse of
the Freiburg vase, the woman flanked by two armed warriors can be compared with
the scene on the reverse of the Brussels amphora, where two warriors are shown
in combat. Finally, the Freiburg figures exhibit the jutting chin, nose, and
back of the head familiar in other works from the hand of this artist.
The scene on the observe of the Hopkins vase is a familiar one in
Attic sculpture of the last half of the sixth century. Pedimental groups
representing one or two lions in triumph over a fallen bull have been assigned
to the Hekatompedon and to the Peisistratid temple on the Acropolis. Another
pedimental group was found in the Agora.13
The dipinto on the underside of the foot is of the type classified by
Johnston as 32Av. The same mark appears on two oinochoai in Boston by the
Chicago Painter. Those vases are said to come from Gela, a provenance that
supports Johnston's contention that dipinti bore commercial information relevant
to the export of the vessels.14