Baltimore, Hopkins BMA 60.55.1
Lekythos by the Athena Painter
ca. 490 B.C.
60.55.1 Baltimore Museum of Art from Robinson Collection. "Gela." Ht,
31.8 cm; diam, 12.6 cm; diam foot, 8.5 cm. Crack across lower part of body.
Neck glazed inside. On shoulder is band of five nine-petal palmettes
with central one inverted, others upright and angled toward handle. Dots flank
base and topmost petal of each palmette. Above is band of tongues beneath red
line. Glazed handle with underside reserved.
Youth in right profile astride a dolphin extends right arm with
phiale toward a satyr who crouches on a rock, right knee drawn up, right arm
extended with oinochoe in right hand. Vine tendrils grow from rock. Behind satyr
are another youth and dolphin seen in right profile. Added white for bellies of
dolphins, lines on rock, flowers on satyr's oinochoe.
Above picture is band of zigzag between two pairs of bounding lines.
Red line beneath scene and another between body and foot.
The Athena Painter1
was one of a number of artists who continued to work in black figure
long after many of his contemporaries had taken up the new red-figure technique.
The artist was trained in the workshop of the Edinburgh Painter, together with a
colleague of similar style, the Theseus Painter. The Athena Painter began work
around 490 B.C. and devoted himself primarily to oinochoai and lekythoi. His
lekythoi resemble those of the Edinburgh Painter in their standard shape, with
straight outline and torus foot, and in the shoulder pattern, which consists of
five palmettes amid dots. Our lekythos dates from the early years of the
artist's career, before he painted the neck black, enclosed his row of bars
within black lines, and added a tendril with bud to the palmettes on either side
of the handle. Still later lekythoi are often in white ground.
The Athena Painter treated a variety of subjects, usually active
scenes, and on his early vases he often depicted riders, satyrs, and
His figures do not stand upon a groundline, in the traditional manner,
but instead upon two red lines directly beneath the scene or upon the black
Characteristic features of the artist's work are the oval heads, the
incised outline at the top of the beard and hair, and the reverse E pattern for
Typical of the date at which the painter was working is the inaccurate
depiction of the dolphin's flukes, which are here set vertically instead of
The subject of our vase has been variously described as Arion.6
The last identification is especially appealing since both Bacchylides
) and Hyginus (Poet. Astr. II.5
) tell us that Theseus rode a dolphin
on his visit to the Nereids
or to Amphitrite. Beazley believed that the second rider was merely one of the
repeat figures that characterize late black-figure lekythoi, and he suggested
that the satyr, with whom Theseus is occasionally shown, was derived from a
The satyr's presence in this scene would not be inappropriate, since
there was a traditional connection between wine and the sea, and consequently
between dolphins and Dionysiac figures, such as satyrs.10
Haspels, followed by Beazley, tentatively suggested that the Athena
Painter was identical with a red-figure artist, the Bowdoin Painter.11
The lekythoi attributed to the latter artist are similar in shape to
those of the Athena Painter (BL) and exhibit the Athena Painter's distinctive
innovations, which consist of the black neck, outlined bars, and black-figure
palmettes with added tendril and bud. Should the identification be correct, the
career of this artist extended into the second half of the fifth
Haspels 1936, 255, no.
; CVA, USA fasc. 4, Robinson
fasc. 1, 51, pl. XXXVII