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Work Attic black-figure band cup
Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)
Coupe à bande à figures noires
© 1994 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski
Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)
The “Little Masters” series of cups is characterized by elegant forms and fine rendering. Its most common manifestations are the lip cup and band cup, so named for the placement of their decoration. Our vase, a fine example of the band cup type, documents farm work as it was carried out in Ancient Greece.
Farm labor and sowing
Several agricultural activities are illustrated on the cup. The main face bears one work scene and two scenes of sowing grain. In the center, a worker guides a plow drawn by a pair of oxen. Two young men at right sow seeds from a small basket while to the left a man pulls earth over the seeds with a pick. Lastly, another worker seems to carry a load to a man in draped clothing – perhaps the property overseer.
Transporting the harvest
Another work scene is depicted on the opposite face. Here the plow is pulled by mules rather than oxen. Behind, two other mules pull a light cart loaded with amphorae almost certainly filled with grain.
Scenes of agricultural labor are an extreme rarity in Greek art. Our vase is all the more precious for offering a precise depiction of the farming methods of Ancient Greece.
The "Little Masters" cups
This cup belongs to what is termed the “Little Masters” series, so called for the miniaturist quality of the painting that adorns them. The production of such cups, extending from the second quarter of the sixth to the beginning of the 5th century BC, can be divided into two main types: the older of these is the lip cup, whose decoration is limited to the cup’s rim. The second type is the band cup, characterized by a thick black lip well suited to its use and further by frieze decoration in the form of a band situated between the two handles. The “Little Masters” cups can be distinguished from previous styles by their more elegant proportions.
Denoyelle Martine, Chefs-d’œuvre de la céramique grecque dans les collections du Louvre, 1994, p. 70, n° 30.
Malagardis N., « Images du monde rural attique à l’époque archaïque. Travail et société : l’outil et le geste sur les vases », dans Archaiologikè Ephéméris, 1988, pp. 95-134.
Villanueva-Puig M.-C., Images de la vie quotidienne en Grèce, 1992, p. 72, p. 73.
Coupe à bande à figures noires
Vers 530 avant J.-C.
H. : 15 cm. ; D. : 21,50 cm. ; L. : 30 cm.
Collection Campana, 1861 , 1861
Faces A and B: Working the fields
Galerie Campana III
Vitrine 17 : Attique à figures noires
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