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Work Attic red-figure cup

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

Attic red-figure cup

© 1999 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

Author(s):
Padel-Imbaud Sophie

In the medallion of this cup, with its molded-edge decoration, are the signatures of Douris, one of the most delicate vase painters of the late Archaic period, and Calliades, a potter who is otherwise unknown. The scene, which is skillfully adapted to the circular format, shows us Eos (Dawn) in the morning collecting the body of her son Memnon, who was killed by Achilles outside Troy. The restrained posture of the goddess and the rigid, bloody corpse of Memnon are highly expressive.

An illustration of the Aethiopis

The interior medallion of this cup is bordered by a meander interspersed with latticework. It illustrates an episode from the Trojan War, known through a lost poem that followed on from the Iliad, called the Aethiopis. It told of the unlucky fate of the main allies of Troy, the Ethiopians and the Amazons, whose chiefs were killed by Achilles.
The scenes on the outside of the bowl follow the same theme: on one side, we can see the battle between Ajax and Hector, supported by Athena and Apollo respectively; on the other side, the pursuit of Paris (designated in the inscription as Alexander) by Menelaus, between Aphrodite and Artemis.

A victim of Achilles

Memnon, king of the Ethiopians and son of Eos (Dawn), was one of the many victims of the most famous of the Greeks.
Here, Douris shows us Eos coming to find the body of her son on the battlefield. He is represented as a cadaver with his eyes closed, his arms dangling, and his body rigid and bloody.
The composition is extremely pared down, and emphasizes the dramatic intensity of the scene particularly well. Only the numerous inscriptions fill the gaps. They consist of the names of the figures, the signatures of the artists, a kalos inscription, and possibly also the mournful lamentation of the winged goddess.

Douris

Douris was one of the finest cup painters of the early 5th century BC. Here, he has decorated a relatively rare form: a cup with molded decoration on the lip.
His style is characterized by his delicate lines and his talent for decorating tondos, as can be seen here in the interplay of curves between the wings and back of Eos, which are perfectly adapted to the rounded form of the medallion.

Bibliography

Denoyelle Martine, Chefs-d'oeuvre de la céramique grecque dans les collections du Louvre, 1994, p. 126, n 58.
Buitron-Oliver D., Douris, 1995, pp. 42-46, pl. 71, pl. 146.

Technical description

  • Signed by Douris (painter)Signed by Calliades (potter)

    Attic red-figure cup

    490-480 BC

    Santa Maria di Capua, Italy

    Athens, Greece

  • Clay, red-figure technique, red and white detailing

  • Purchased from the Paravey Collection, 1879

    Interior: Eos and MemnonSides A and B: Trojan War

    G 115

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Galerie Campana IV
    Room 43

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