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Work Calyx krater with red-figure decoration

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

Calyx krater with red-figure decoration

© 1996 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

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

Author(s):
Astier Marie-Bénédicte

Workshops in Falerii in the early 4th century BC featured a number of talented red-figure painters. This krater is the work of the Nazzano Painter, one of the most brilliant artists of the Faliscan school, noted for his large vases decorated with mythological or epic scenes. Here, Athena and Poseidon, the protagonists in the struggle for the possession of Athens, are are shown among a company of gods and heros. On the reverse, a Maenad is flanked by two satyrs.

A decorative mythological scene

The vase is decorated with red-figure painting highlighted with touches of white (notably for the flesh tones of the female figures). The scene is taken from Greek mythology, and Athenian legend in particular. In a complex composition, the protagonists in the struggle for the possession of Athens are surrounded by heros and Olympian deities. Athena and Poseidon are shown on either side of an Ionic column topped by a female sphinx. Both are depicted with their usual attributes: a trident and sea monster for the god of the sea; and an owl, helmet, lance, and aegis with a gorgoneion for the chosen goddess of the Athenians. Around them are seen an ephebus, a winged Eros, a satyr playing a lyre (possibly Marsyas), Perseus brandishing the head of the gorgon Medusa, Dionysos (with the thyrsus in his left hand, averting his gaze from the gorgon), Hera, and finally Heracles, armed with his club and wearing the skin of the Nemean lion. On the reverse, a Maenad is accompanied by two satyrs.

A work by the Nazzano Painter

Calyx kraters were used for mixing water and wine at banquets. The present vase was painted in about 360 BC by the Nazzano Painter, one of the most brilliant artists of the ancient city of Falerii (Civita Castellana). The Nazzano Painter is noted for his output of large vases decorated with mythological and epic themes. He is named after the place of discovery of one of his most important works, a krater in the Del Drago collection depicting the sleeping figures of Dionysos and Ariadne.

Red-figure pottery from Falerii

In the early 4th century BC, Falerii was a center of prolific artistic activity, particularly the production of red-figure vases. This technique, developed in Attica in about 530 BC, was scarcely known in Etruria before the 4th century BC but subsequently flourished, doubtless due to the arrival of Athenian craftsmen both here and throughout the Greek world. Immigrant Athenian artists and craftsmen brought with them technical knowledge, a rich literary and oral tradition, and a new decorative repertoire. Faliscan workshops exploited the new techniques and motifs with originality and talent.

Bibliography

Martelli Cristofani Marina, La ceramica degli Etruschi. La pittura vascolare, Novara, 1987, n 4, pp. 243-244.

Technical description

  • Peintre de Nazzano

    Calyx krater with red-figure decoration

    c. 360 BC

    Italy

    Falerii (Civita Castellana), Italy

  • Clay, red-figure

    H. 43 cm

  • Former Hirschmann collection; gift of the Friends of the Louvre, 1993

    Side A: Athena and Poseidon surrounded by deitiesSide B: Satyrs and a Maenad

    CA 7426

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Denon wing
    Ground floor
    Etruria II
    Room 19

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