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Euphronios Calyx krater

Page history last edited by Ms Allaker 11 years, 8 months ago



Euphronios Calyx krater













This is the seventh of the set works that must be studied: in other words you're almost half-way there!!.  This is the first of a new type of vase, the RED-FIGURE type, which, as its name suggests, the opposite of the type we have looked at so far.  The essence of these vases is the greater detail that the artists were able to get and the greater variation using brush-strokes rather than incisions.  Before looking in detail at the vase, it is probably worth reminding yourself of what kraters were used for by the Greeks:  They were used for………….



Date:              510-500 BC

Type:             Calyx Crater

Potter:           Unknown

Painter:         Euphronios-signed (on side A)

Height:          46cms

Diameter:      55 cms at the neck

Subject:        Side A: Heracles and Antaeus Side B: Youth giving a flute recital.


Euphronios made several different types of vases and pained on several different types as well.  He signed only 6 as a painter and 10 as a potter-this is one which he signed as a painter.  At this stage it is probably important that you learn a little more about the shapes of vases.  In the handout which follows you will find some familiar vase-shapes, with more detailed information, but also one or two new shapes that we will meet in the next series of vases.  The other useful thing you can do now is to make a quick sketch of some of the shapes we've come across already this term.  View this as a sort of a test.


Volute Krater                       Belly Amphora                        Lekythos




Background and Style

It has been suggested that a new interest in neck amphorae with twisted handles is due to him because of two rather special ones that he did.  One has a completely black body with pictures only on the neck.  The second one has a black neck and a single figures on each side of the body in a free black field with no ground line.  Both vases look forward to the beginning of the 5th century.


Stylistic features:

Heads:                deep from the front to the back with neat calm features

Eyes:       narrow and finely lashed - opened towards the tear duct

Lips:        generous contours

Ears:        heavily-lobed and, on larger figures, careful inner markings

Hair:         Contours reserved or incised

Fingers:    often nails are marked; turned upwards; thin and brittle.

Subject matter

Side A:           The traditional story from literature of Antaeus and Herakles shows Antaeus as an earth-born giant who gets his power from contact with the earth.  To defeat him, Herakles had to strangle him while he still had his feet off the ground.  In Euphronios' version, Antaeus is defeated on the ground like a wrestler.  His right arm lies limply under Herakles' taut body.  His mouth is open, bearing his teeth (carefully painted) as he gasps for breath.  His eyes roll up as he is in the throes of death.  Why is there a difference in the versions ?


       i)                        Wants to make the most of big figures on a big vase.

       ii)           To heighten the contrast between the figures: Herakles' neat coiffure is in  direct contrast to the shagginess of Antaeus' beard and hair.

       iii)          Other versions of any given myth were probably current

         iv)           Euphronios wanted to create a satisfying composition: a trapezoidal field where the two smaller characters on each side (women in the case of Antaeus; and a woman and Herakles' symbols in the other case) direct the attention of the viewer  to the main conflict.


Side B:  A youth is about to give a flute recital in front of three friends.  He isstanding, they are sitting.  Polykles (the flautist's name) is dressed in a long sleeveless chiton.


Composition         The women are reduced in size because of their relative




Euphronios' precise lines define the anatomical details of the contestants and emphasise the sheer muscularity of the giant, thereby making Herakles' victory all the more impressive.  Brush work is impressive: compare the shaggy barbarous face of Antaeus (hair and beard painted in dilute slip) with the neat coiffure of Herakles.  Notice also the crisscross hanging of the drapery on the women.



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