Wednesday, November 16, 2011

V. Middle Corinthian Black Figure

Middle Corinthian Black Figure, c. 600–c.570 BCE
Munich.  The Dodwell Pyxis
I used to have a 19th-century dictionary of antiquities (in a paperback reprint) that dated the Dodwell Pyxis, named for the famous traveler who acquired it in the Corinthia, to the time of the Dipylon vases, then recent finds in that cemetery, which bore figures that the writer (was it Nettleship?  William Smith?) thought extremely primitive and childish.  He had a similar opinion of the letter forms on the lid of this pyxis.  In any case, it was the cast of characters in the Boar Hunt that interested him.  Of course, we know now (and some knew then, in the 1880s) that the spelling and writing on the lid are simply the work of someone less than a calligrapher (though about two decades later than the Eurytios Krater), and its animal friezes, as well as the shape of the pyxis itself, are Middle Corinthian.  The Dodwell Painter typifies much of the animal frieze work of the first quarter, or so, of the sixth century BCE.  Usually insouciant, his work is occasionally ambitious, as on a huge oinochoe (made as pretentious grave goods) in the Richmond, VA, Museum.  I can add nothing to the work of my friend and mentor, D. A. Amyx, on the Dodwell Painter and his followers (not to say that other work is not useful, too).  Humfry Payne, though, was surely right in regarding Middle Corinthian (MC) frieze work as more commercial than EC, let alone Protocorinthian.
BM Large trefoil oinochoe with triple handle and three friezes.  Late in MC, perhaps ca. 570 BCE.
One gets pictures of details for study as one can:
BM Large trefoil oinochoe with triple handle and three friezes.  Late in MC, perhaps ca. 570 BCE.
This large trefoil-mouthed oinochoe, with three friezes and a triple handle, is less idiosyncratic than work by the Dodwell Painter's best followers, but generically it is of much the same kind.
My own favorite work in Middle Corinthian is by the Corinthian Chimaera Painter and the painters in his group; I posted the one that first took my fancy last month, in this blog, before deciding that many of  the pots were after all not what you'd call opera nobilia.  His best plates, though, such as the Louvre one, have as much distinction as anything I can think of.  A companion of his, The Painter of Louvre E574, has a tighter manner of drawing but also is very fine.
Munich, Antikensammlung, 6449 (346A).  Purchased in 1904 from a Paris auction.
 Payne, NC 1047.  Amyx, CorVP 171, AP1.  Lawrence, most recently,  Hesperia,
 Supplement 28 (1996), pp 72-73, 123, L14.  MC/LC plate by the Painter of
Louvre E 574, who also decorated the famous Copenhagen plates.
These horses are rather comparable with those on the great Attic François Vase by Kleitias, in the next post, and are probably not much earlier.
Apart from the kylixes of the Gorgoneion Group (see Amyx in AJA 65 (1961), pp. 1–15, pls. 1–15, for a very enlightening discussion of the Medallion Painter and the rest of this group), the finest miniature work of Middle Corinthian—I have already illustrated the Brussels Aeneas kylix above—the finest, perhaps the finest of all miniature work in MC, is that of the Samos Painter, and for him the kotyle Louvre CA 3004:
Louvre CA 3004.  The Hydra and Herakles' companion
Iolaos at right.  Both the figure work, the floral chain, and
the lettering, in my opinion (AJA 88 (1984) pp. 59–64,
pls. 21–23), give this a relative date of c. 585 BCE.
The front of the kotyle is noble and sprightly and elegant, but the dancing komasts, dipping wine from the dinos that you can just see under the handle to the right of Iolaos, each one named by an epithet to characterize their nature, go around the back of the cup and are the most delightful of their kind.  Since Amyx and I published our studies, excavations at Samos have been published that, in my opinion, really link this artist with the Attic KX Painter and suggest that at least the latter spent some time actually working on Samos.  The Corinthian Samos Painter, however, made his cups of Corinthian clay.  My photo, above, though at least it shows the little cup in a lifelike way, is slightly too pink.
Here, copied from my article, are those komasts:
Louvre CA 3004.  Here are the komasts, Playful, BigButt, Phallios, Komios, and the rest.  At right, the horses of the chariot that brought Herakles and Iolaos.  There is a great publication of this kotyle in the Mon.Piot 40 (1944) pp. 23–52, figs. 1–17, pls. 1–3, by Pierre Amandry.

Just how great these komasts are can be appreciated by comparing them with those on the Berlin kotyle, Payne's no. 953, published as early as Gerhard, which are like wooden puppets rather than human dancers wearing padded festival costumes:
Kotyle, Berlin.  Payne's Necrocorinthia no. 953.  Condition outstanding; art OK
Alabastra continued to be made larger and larger, as much as 30 cms. tall.  Consider the two from Delos (illus. below) and from Tocra (Boardman, no. 369—he was part of that excavation and he published the Tocra (Taucheira) one.  This artist, rather fantastical, on whom I have published in Hesperia 67 (1998), pp. 302–322, pls. 50–60, began in the period of EC style and worked through most of MC.
Delos 431, Boardman, Early Greek Vase Painting, no. 370, by
the Taucheira Painter, who often doesn't know which wing
he's engraving!  But splendidly.  Notice the fashion for showing
a potnia theron as if she were an ancient statue of herself.

Here are two large alabastra in Berlin, both with tritons, as we call them.  The one at left
is itself part of the heavily embroidered "Luxus Phenomenon" that the Tocra and Delos
alabastra exemplify.
I think this will do for Middle Corinthian.  It is too much my specialty for me to write about it with too few illustrations, and where I disagree with my elders I want only to say what I think without being contentious.
But, between Boardman's book and these posts, I daresay you are getting more of these things than you are used to seeing.  Or are you?