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Cleveland 508.15

Attic Red-Figure Kylix Douris ca. 480 B.C.

Lent by The Cleveland Museum of Art; The Hinman B. Hurlbert Collection, 1915 (508.15).

The Vase: h. (as restored) 12.0 cm; d. of rim 29.5 cm; w. 36.3 cm. Broken and repaired, the missing fragments, including the stem, restored in plaster. The foot is alien.

Decoration: Tondo: full-striding figure of Dionysos with a satyr skipping merrily behind him. Dionysos, holding the end of a long-tendrilled grapevine in his left hand and a kantharos in his right, casts a startling glance back over his right shoulder at the satyr who appears to have just slapped the god on his back. Max Wegner points out the amusing juxtaposition of these two figures — the massive, dour figure of Dionysos, and the light-hearted satyr who attracts as much attention for his spirited antics as does the god by the space he fills (Wegner 1968, 155). Both figures are set on a ground line, the space below reserved in red clay. The border alternates single meanders and saltire squares; the meanders with minor exceptions run alternately clockwise and counterclockwise.

The exterior is decorated with figures of satyrs and maenads, arranged alternately, a group of five figures on each side, and complex palmette-designs at each handle. Wegner analyzes these compositions in depth in a comparison with six other cups bearing Dionysiac scenes (Wegner 1968, pp. 156ff.). As in the tondo scene, Douris has played off the naked, raucous satyrs against the heavily clad, more ponderous female figures.

Douris's favorite vase-shape by far was the kylix. Beazley in ARV2 and Paralipomena, lists 256 cups and cup-skyphoi to a mere 24 examples of all other shapes combined in Douris' oeuvre. It is surprising then, that of the three Douris vases in Cleveland, only one should be a kylix and the other two lekythoi.

In 1915 the kylix was put on permanent loan to the Museum from the estate of Hinman B. Hurlbut. The cup, heavily restored at the time it was given to Cleveland, went unrecognized until 1953 when the adhesives disintegrated and the cup collapsed into a heap of sherds. These fragments were subsequently divested of large areas of puritanical overpaint and rejoined. The drawing thus unveiled was fine enough to spur the then curator, Sherman E. Lee, to send photos to Sir John Beazley who wrote back, "... the red-figured cup is a very good and important piece, the work of Douris in his late middle-period, about 480 or a little after." See S. E. Lee, "A Cup by Douris," AJA 58 (1954) 230, pls. 41, 42. Letter from J. D. Beazley, dated March 17, 1953. See also ARV2, 436, no. III.

The collection of vases in Cleveland was not a particularly impressive one, and perhaps Beazley was being kind in his assessment, for the kylix is only a rather typical example of Douris' later work. The subject matter on all sides is perfectly straight-forward for this period.

Douris' drawing is best in the tondo figures, especially Dionysos' face, the satyr's kicked-up left foot, and in the left-hand satyr figures in both scenes of the underside of the cup. Other areas are either obscured by damage or are rather clumsily or casually drawn. The tight, patterned groups of lines for drapery folds and the heavily drawn hemlines are typical for this period of Douris' work, and along with the tondo border-decoration, are guides for dating the cup.


CVA, USA 15, Cleveland 1, p. 24, pls. 37, 2 and 38 for complete description and bibliography.

Arielle P. Kozloff, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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