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Work Black-figure amphora

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Etruscan Art (9th-1st centuries BC)

Black-figure amphora

© 1997 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Etruscan Art (9th-1st centuries BC)

Author(s):
Astier Marie-Bénédicte

This vase was made circa 470 BC. Although it uses the shape and decorative composition of Attic red-figure amphorae from the early fifth century BC, the black-figure technique is conserved, together with the archaic kneeling-running position - cleverly adapted here to portray the dancer as she swirls to the rhythm of the crotalum. The Etruscan painter made skillful use of line and curve to render the folds of the clothing, bringing the dancer to life and creating the illusion of space.

A fondness for archaic conventions

The front of this black-figure amphora is decorated with the figure of a woman dancing to the rhythm of the crotalum; on the back is the figure of a goat. The painter was reluctant to break with solutions inherited from the Greek art of the sixth century BC. He used the black-figure technique (replaced by the red-figure style in Athens starting in 530 BC) and the kneeling-running position. The rendering of the body still followed the Archaic formula: the head and legs shown in profile, the torso depicted frontally. The clothing is also represented in archaistic style: the short cloak resembles those worn by certain sixth-century figures, but is draped in folds like the peplos, which came into fashion in 480 BC.

Attic models as a source of inspiration

Although this amphora dates to the late Archaic period (circa 470 BC), its painter strove to break with sixth-century BC conventions by taking his inspiration from the Attic red-figure vases produced in the early fifth century BC. The form and decorative syntax are borrowed from Athenian models, which were massively imported into Etruria at that time. This influence is particularly evident in the concern with rendering space; the impact of the Archaic style - which did not share this concern - is thus considerably lessened. The face and legs are portrayed in profile, but the torso is slightly twisted - this is suggested by the strongly sloping shoulder line. The impression of depth is enhanced by the superimposition of planes, and the way the dancer's clothing disappears behind her bent knee. The painter also sought to convey her movement through the oblique lines on the clothing, whose folds follow the curves of the body.

A work by a painter from Vulci

The artist to whom this work is attributed was dubbed the "Painter of the Dancer with a Crotalum" because of the scene depicted on the front of this vase. He probably learned his skills from the Micali painter, who was active in Vulci between the sixth and fifth centuries BC. The shape and decorative syntax of the amphora, together with certain characteristics of the drawing, were features of the artist's later work.

Bibliography

Gaultier Françoise, "Le Peintre de la danseuse aux crotales. Recherches sur les ateliers de céramique de Vulci dans la première moitié du Ve siècle av. J.-C.", in Mélanges des Écoles françaises de Rome et d'Athènes, 1987, 99, 1, pp. 63-93.
Gaultier Françoise, Corpus vasorum antiquorum, fascicule 26,
musée du Louvre, fascicule 39, France, Paris, 2003, pp. 59-63.

Technical description

  • Painter of the Dancer with a Crotalum

    Black-figure amphora

    Circa 470 BC

    Italy

    Vulci (?), central Etruria

  • Clay, terra-cotta, black figures

    H. 41 cm

  • Original collection

    Dancer with a Crotalum

    E 755

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Denon wing
    Ground floor
    Etruria II
    Room 19

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