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Cleveland 71.46

Attic Black-Figure Dinos Circle of the Antimenes Painter ca. 520-515 B.C.

(Not exhibited) The Cleveland Museum of Art; John L. Severance Fund Purchase (71.46).

The Vase: h. 33.6 cm; d. 50.8 cm. Small hole in the bottom, otherwise intact. Like most dinoi the Cleveland dinos has a rounded bottom and flat rim. What is unusual about this dinos is its extraordinary condition and fine potting and painting which places it among a handful of the finest black-figure dinoi. Preserved virtually intact, most of the body has fired black. The painted decoration is limited to the rim and shoulder. Alternating red and black tongue patterns decorate the shoulder; above this the concave exterior of the rim is painted with two rows of ivy leaves separated by a zigzag line. The lower section of the dinos is simply decorated with a number of reserved and painted bands which run around the base.

Decoration: The horizontal surface of the rim displays human and animal figures, mythological characters and chariots, making up twelve iconographical groups. The characters are placed around the circumference of the rim, without interruption, creating a continuous frieze of six quadrigae repeatedly enclosing Greek warriors and mythological heroes. Highlights of this entourage include Theseus slaying the Minotaur, flanked by an Athenian youth and maiden (Group 1). The bearded Herakles clutches the neck of a centaur, probably Nessos, who holds a stone in one hand and attempts to hold back Herakles with the other. The centaur falls to the ground as Herakles strikes the final blow with his sword (Group 3). Warriors with lances raised and shields in position (Group 5), fight over the body of a dead comrade (possibly the Trojan War heroes Menelaus and Hektor, with the dead Euphorbos). The vestiges of a sunburst shield device are still visible on the second warrior's Boeotian shield. The combat is flanked by two women. Further along, the bearded Herakles wrestles with the Nemean lion while Iolaos holds the hero's club and bow and Athena and Hermes watch (Group 9). Between these scenes, bearded men (Groups 2, 6, 10, 12) and epheboi (4, 8), wearing lightweight Boeotian shields, drive quadrigae while men (4) and women (2, 4, 8) bid them farewell and warriors (6, 10, 12) prepare to depart. Two groups of soldiers actively engage in battle (7, 11). Two warriors, one wearing a Corinthian helmet and a shield emblazoned with pellets, have forced an opponent, in an Athenian helmet, to his knees (7). The other groups of soldiers, in a conventional pose, charge violently at each other (11). Added red: beards, hair, drapery, armor, fur, manes, tack and harnesses. Added white: female flesh, pelles shield devices, and baldrics.

On the interior rim, five ships move in full sail to the right (see University of Chicago 1967.115.141). The prow of each ship is in the form of a boar's head. The nose is rounded, the mouth, eye, and ear sharply incised. Two pairs of arcs mark the cathead, the location of cross-timbers which projected from either side of the bow and were used as a support to lift the anchor. A single wale line and a pair of lines defining the gunwale are incised from stem to stern above these arcs. The hull is painted purple. The oarsmen's heads have not been delineated, and the oars have been quickly incised. The helmsman, the only figure carefully incised, sits in the stern compartment or poop deck. The stern behind him is topped by a swan's head. The mast (applied white) in full sail shows brailing ropes and halyards on the windward side.

The scenes on the exterior and interior of the dinos, thus described, represent separate stock motifs employed and rearranged by many artists for dinoi in the late sixth century B.C. (For lists of dinoi displaying figured scenes and battleships see Morrison & Williams 1968; Schauenburg 1970, 34). Both the many scenes depicting departing warriors and the battleships decorating the interior rim may be from the repertory of Trojan War motifs.

Representations of ships on Greek pottery occur as early as the eighth century. The particular kind of ship depicted on the Cleveland dinos is sometimes called "Samian" (C. Torr, Ancient Ships, [Chicago 1964] 65, and F. P. Johnson, "A Fragment of an Attic Dinos," Art in America 29 [1941] 215-216) and appears in a primitive form on the Fran├žois Vase (c. 570 B.C.). The placement of the battleship is as common as it is clever, for when the dinos is filled with water and wine, the ships seem to float on the "wine dark sea."1

The technique and style of Exekias, the master black-figure artist toward the end of the sixth century, strongly influenced the Antimenes Painter and his colleagues. A fragment of a black-figure dinos at the University of Chicago, within the Exekian Group of dinoi, helps establish this debt (see University of Chicago 1967.115.141). Of the two dinoi attributed to the Antimenes Painter, one (in Madrid) has the same shape as the Cleveland example (Madrid 10902, from Akragas, c. 520 B.C.; ABV, 275, no. 133; Morrison & Williams 1968, pp. 102-103, pl. 17a; see further, Kathman, infra, n. 30). An examination of the figural scene on the Madrid dinos illustrates Exekias' influence. Like the master Exekias, the Antimenes Painter placed his figures and separate scenes neatly around the rim creating the appearance of a continuous frieze. The scenes include typically Exekian components: exotic Scythian archers, chariots ready for departure, warriors in combat, seated attendants, and various mythological characters. The frieze is characterized by extremely delicate incision and many added details rarely found on contemporary vases.

The figural scene on the Cleveland dinos is close to the Madrid example, but it is not by the same hand. The painter of the Cleveland dinos, while technically proficient, lacks the sureness of touch seen on the Madrid dinos. The figures are equally well-placed around the rim allowing an easy flow from one scene to another, but in the Cleveland example two features of the Exekian prototypes-the exotic elements and the seated figures-are missing.

Exekias may have been the first to paint the interior rim of a dinos with ships. Only technical details differentiate the battleships of Exekias from those of other painters such as the Antimenes Painters and his Circle (Kathman, infra, nn. 31 and 33). An examination of such drafting details reveals that the Antimenes Painter remained close to his predecessor, while his followers loosely interpreted the compositions of the masters. Although all the distinctive features are too numerous to mention, a number of prominent drafting peculiarities are readily noticed. In translating the designs of his predecessors the painter of the Cleveland dinos added novel details that may have set the style for later artists (Kathman, infra, n. 34 for extensive discussion).

Numerous technical features (retention of figural formulae, uniform spacing of figures, depiction of battleships with a low, thin form) suggest that of all the painters within the Circle of the Antimenes Painter, the artist of the Cleveland dinos is closest to the master. He employs with skill and inventiveness the Exekian traditions that influenced the Antimenes Painter and were filtering through the workshops of this period. The Antimenean spirit that suffuses this vase indicates a close working relationship between this artist and the master, and suggests that the Cleveland dinos was made during the Antimenes Painter's own productive years, perhaps around 520-515 B.C.


B. Kathman, "A Trio of Late Black-Figure Vase-Painters," CMA Bulletin 66 (February 1979) 55-57, figs. 8, 9 and 11.

Barbara A. Kathman, The Cleveland Museum of Art

1 "For dinoi with ships on the inside of the rim see CVA, Boston 2 (1978) p. 9. The scene on top of the rim divides into three big subjects each flanked by chariots, and three smaller ones (her nos. 3, 7, 11)." (Letter of Dietrich von Bothmer to Warren G. Moon, 15 Feb. 1980)

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