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Work Attic black-figure dinos

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)

Dinos attique à figures noires, dit "dinos du Peintre de la Gorgone"

© 1994 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)

Author(s):
Padel-Imbaud Sophie

A dinos was used for mixing water and wine. This example consists of a large bowl on a separate foot. Both parts are covered with the same decoration of plant and animal friezes. On one side of the shoulders Perseus is being chased by the Gorgons, while on the other hoplites are fighting, framed by their chariots. The Gorgon Painter, one of the earliest masters of the black-figure technique and a pioneer of the Attic tradition of figurative decoration on pottery, owes his name to this vessel.

An unusual shape

A dinos was a vessel that consisted of two parts: a large bowl and a tall moulded foot. The potter has transferred the shape of his model, originally in bronze, into terracotta. The fact that the original was in metal explains the extremely elaborate shape of the foot, with its mouldings and flat disks. These vessels were particularly designed for use at banquets. The Greeks only drank their wine diluted. Large vessels with wide mouths, such as the dinos or the krater, were used to dilute the wine with water. The dinos was designed so that the servants did not have to stoop to reach the diluted wine.

The Corinthian influence

Most of the vessel's surface is covered with a series of bands of friezes alternating plant motifs (intertwining palmettes and lotus blossoms) and animals, including mythological creatures such as mermaids and sphinxes alongside deer and wild cats. Among the wild cats there are a few male figures, in reference to the Oriental tradition of the Master of the Animals. The early years of Attic black-figure ware were strongly influenced by the Corinthian style; Corinth was then the most important pottery production center. The friezes reveal how close Attic pottery was to the Corinthian school, itself influenced by the Oriental style.

The Gorgon Painter

The ornamentation on the shoulders is strikingly different from the rest of the decoration. This is the earliest entirely figurative frieze in pottery. The artist takes his name from the main scene, which is a popular episode from the Greek legend of Perseus. The hero is shown fleeing the Gorgons after murdering their sister Medusa, shown collapsing after Perseus has lopped off her head. The gods charged with protecting Perseus are following the Gorgons. Hermes is recognizable thanks to his petasus and caduceus. The woman in front of him is thus likely to be Athena.
On the other side of the shoulders is a more traditional scene showing a duel between hoplites alongside their chariots.
This vessel gave the Gorgon Painter (fl. 600-580 BC) his name. He was a pupil of the Nessos Painter, who was the first master of the black-figure style. The Gorgon Painter borrowed the Gorgon motif from him, expanding on it in his own style. In this entirely narrative scene, devoid of any purely decorative elements, the Gorgon Painter heralds the rise of Attic pottery which progressively shook off the Corinthian influence during the second quarter of the 6th century BC.

Bibliography

Denoyelle Martine, Chefs-d'oeuvre de la céramique grecque dans les collections du Louvre, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1994, p. 58, n 24.

Technical description

  • Attribué au Peintre de la Gorgone

    Dinos attique à figures noires, dit "dinos du Peintre de la Gorgone"

    Vers 580 avant J.-C.

    Provenance : Etrurie ?

  • Terre cuite, technique des figures noires avec des rehauts pourpres

    H. : 93 cm.

  • Collection Campana, 1861 , 1861

    Dinos by the Gorgon Painter

    E 874

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Denon wing
    Lower ground floor
    Pre-Classical Greece
    Room 1, temporarily closed to the public

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