previous next

Cleveland 76.89

Attic Red-Figure Eye-Cup Psiax ca. 520 B.C.

(Not exhibited) The Cleveland Museum of Art; J.H. Wade Fund (76.89) Ex Swiss private collection.

The Vase: h. 11.1 to 11.3 cm; w. 33.6 cm; d. of bowl 25.9 cm; d. of tondo 6.4 cm; d. of foot 10.2 cm; d. of groundline on exterior 15.2 cm. Broken and repaired, with loss at upper central part of Side A restored. A pair of drill holes, for an ancient repair, appear in the bent left leg of the central figure on A. Kylix of type A, with a deep bowl. Handles reserved within, but no reserved handle patch. Side of foot slightly concave and reserved. The small eyes set high on the bowl and small palmettes with reserved hearts place the cup in the Group of Leipzig 3599.

Decoration: Tondo: palmette quatrefoil. Four palmettes disposed along the coordinates established by the handles. The palmettes at north and south, which point inward, each have nine fronds and hearts which are peculiarly flat-ended because the volutes in which they sit do not touch. The palmettes at east and west, pointing outward, each have eleven fronds and a small drop in added red pointing from the volutes toward the center. The tendrils run from one volute to the next, looping twice.

Side A: Between eyes, a warrior fallen to one knee; beyond each eye, a warrior. In each of the eyes, a red dot covers the central compass point and rings of added red, added white, and glaze surround the glaze pupil. The leftmost figure strides to the right wearing a short chiton, corslet, and mantle whose elaborate ornamentation includes a border of dots in glaze and added white. He has a helmet (red wreath), shield, spear (reserved shaft and point), and greaves (red stripe indicating lining). The central warrior has fallen to his left knee keeping his head and torso frontal and extending his left, shield, arm. He is provided with a helmet, shield, and greaves (red stripe for lining); the point of his spear is incised while the shaft is rendered with the pinkish-brown clay matter which Psiax habitually uses in addition to applied color. The abdomen shows an ambitious attempt at rendering musculature. The figure at the right has a helmet, greaves (red stripe for lining), spear (reserved shaft and point), and shield (device: raven). Preliminary sketch lines appear for both this warrior and the first one.

Side B: Between eyes, a youth with kithara; beyond each eye, a youth listening. The leftmost figure leans on a staff and holds his right arm akimbo. He wears a himation and, like his two companions, a wreath consisting of a red line with red and white dots on either side. The flower in his left hand has two red sepals or petals within an incised calyx. The kitharode, dressed in a long foldless garment underneath a mantle with crenelated borders, clasps his instrument under his left arm and holds it up by a strap around his left wrist. A cloth hangs from the left arm of the kithara and the seven strings seem to be executed in the special clay matter. The youth at the right corresponds to the one at the left in all essential respects except that he is turned right, but faces back toward the center. Graffito on the underside of the foot: ΙΩΠΛΟΣ (Ioplos).

The cup in Cleveland, attributed by Beazley to Psiax, is one of six preserved examples by the painter and one of two eye-cups, the other being Munich 2587 (ARV2, 7, no. 8). The stylistic connection between them was established by Beazley and recently has been discussed at some length (see bibliography, especially B. Cohen 1978 and Mertens 1979). The exterior of the Cleveland cup, however, still warrants brief consideration from an iconographical viewpoint. The combination of a musical and martial subject recurs in Psiax's oeuvre on the Munich cup where, however, the musical element is limited to a flautist and a girl dancing between the eyes on Side B. The representation on both cups is more genre-like and informal than either a concert, with the performer on a bema, or a mythological gathering with a lyre-bearing Herakles or Apollo. Psiax depicted the latter on his red-figure amphora, Philadelphia MS5399 (ARV2, 7, no. 3), where Apollo stands between the listening Leto and Artemis; on his bilingual Madrid 11008 (ARV2, 7, no. 2), he supplemented the triad with a warrior, Ares. He has left us other "informal" music-making scenes, all with flautists, in black-figure, as seen on the Jameson lekythos (ABV, 293, no. 11), the plate Basel 421 (ABV, 294, no. 21), and a mastos in a Swiss private collection. The Andokides Painter, who increasingly seems to challenge the Antimenes Painter as Psiax's "brother," has left us two concert scenes on red-figure amphorae: Louvre G 1, with kitharode (ARV2, 3, no. 2) and Swiss private, with flautist (ARV2, 3, no. 4). These representations are noteworthy because the refined young men with their beautiful garments, flowers, and staves are cast in much the same mold as those of Psiax; moreover, the reverse of Louvre G 1 presents a combat. The figures of Psiax, on the other hand, distinguish themselves from their Andocidean counterparts in being more energetic and less frozen in their poses; the studies of musculature on the Cleveland and Munich cups are significant in this respect as well. Thus, while musicians appear on Attic vases from the earliest black-figure (see H. Gropengiesser, "Sänger und Sirenen," AA [1977] 582-610), the informal performance is a genre subject that seems to crystallize in early red-figure, and it makes one of its earliest appearances on the Cleveland cup.


ARV2, 7; 38, no. 8; P. E. Arias, Storia della ceramica di età arcaica e classica (Torino 1963) pl. 61, 1; K. Schefold, E. Berger and M. Schmidt, Führer durch das Antikenmuseum Basel (Basel n.d.) 73-75; Para., 321; K. Schauenburg, "Herakles bei Pholos," AthMitt 86 (1971) 52, n. 41; S. Patitucci-Uggeri, "Kylix di Psiax in una Collezione Ticinese," Quaderni Ticinesi (1972) 33-60; Boardman 1975, fig. 15; CMA Bulletin 64 (1977) 73, 43 (ill.); B. Cohen 1978, 284; Schefold 1978, 232, fig. 311; Mertens 1979, pl. 13, 1,2,4,6.

Joan R. Mertens, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: