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Kleophrades Painter Pointed Amphora

Page history last edited by Ms Allaker 13 years, 7 months ago


Kleophrades Painter Pointed Amphora


 Date: 500-490 BC

Type: Pointed Amphora-Red figure

Potter: Kleophrades

Painter: Kleophrades

Height: 56 cms

Subject: Main: Dionysus with randy satyrs and orgasmic maenads











It is one of two works that we look at by the "Kleophrades Painter", who was the son of Amasis, a Black figure man we looked at earlier.  He represents one of the better Red figure artists, a master of mood, who is not merely interested in presenting a static scene.  This type of amphora is different to the Belly Amphora that we have met so far, so it might be worth refreshing your memory on what it was used for.  The Greeks used Painted Amphorae for ------------------This type of Amphora did not appear until the beginning of the fifth century BC (ie. from 499 BC onwards).



Date:              500-490 BC

Type:             Pointed Amphora-Red figure

Potter:           Kleophrades

Painter:         "Kleophrades Painter"

Height:          56 cms

Subject:        Main: Dionysos with randy satyrs and orgasmic maenads

                      Neck: Athletes indulging in sport


This vase is very complex in its composition, so we must go into some detail about what is actually on it.  Since we have two vases by the same person, we also need to have a fair bit of background about him and the character of his work.  We will begin with that.  It may take quite along time to do this vase, but, it will make the next one easier if we put the time into this one.  Only 6 more vases after this one - and they are much easier

Background and style

Potter             Potted some of the largest cups that we have.

                        Not a prolific signer of his name - son of Amasis


Painter           A reticent artist, his work is often not signed

                        Learned his letters late in life

Name only on one vase and then it appeared twice. Name is Epiktetos. But this presents a problem since he is not the Epiktetos cup painter who was working until 490BC.

 Three possibilities:                         

1/ There were two of the same name working in Athens at the same      time

2/ Our one only started after the cup painter had stopped; decided to cash    in on a famous name.

                                    3/ This is an ancient forgery


Therefore it is easier to refer to him as the Kleophrades Painter. Possibly a Peleponnesian from Corinth, but this is unlikely because his work is very much in the style of the Athenian Pioneer School.


Work  He painted 100+  mostly larger vases in his early career, but later lost the flair for this large scale composition and moved to smaller works



                        Full flowing lines on the character drawings

            Spaciousness of composition -there’s plenty of room.

            Figures and work tend to have monumental qualities


            His best work is

n      two large Calyx Kraters of youths arming for battle

n      the pointed Amphora with ecstatic maenads

n      the Hydria showing the triumph of victory and the pathos of defeat from the Trojan Wars



Trained in the Pioneer School and owes much to Euthymides and may have been a pupil of his. As a result of this influence he was very concerned with the larger vases and in showing movement and action: therefore battle scenes and dancing sequences are prominent on his vases.  Decorated work is noticeable for its detail - even by Red-figure standards.  Borders are simple key or meanders interrupted by a box or a cross inside a square.  T shapes also occur. He did work in Black-figure technique - and there is evidence of this in the hair of the maenad on the Pointed Amphora.



Hair:         Continues to incise this long after his contemporaries have stopped

Ears:        Early=forward protection: Later=a tighter circle

Eyes:       Open at the inner corner, pupils well forward; profile gazes.  Often painted      in brown, not black.

Nostrils:                           Full "S-curve"

Lips:                    May be outlined

Collarbones:       Straight "H-Lines"

Nipples:               Ignored, especially on women

Stomach:            Lower stomachs have a black line representing hair from the navel to the pubic area.

Ankles:                Simple hooks


Subject matter

In general terms his lyric subject matter is either a Dionysiac komos or Athletic Scene.  In mythical subjects, he uses stock scenes, especially the Trojan Wars: Like Exekias, he saw that myth could be used to mirror real life, especially the Persian Wars.  His style invites the viewer to question the scenes that he paints.


Main frieze:

This vase shows a Dionysiac revel, with Dionysis central in this encircling frieze.  The characters and their actions are detailed below.

1.         Excited satyr playing a double-flute

2&8.    Maenads in orgasmic ecstasy. 2 is twisting her thyrsos (a fennel stalk with ivy, associated with maenads)8 is wearing an animal skin

3&7.    Satyrs trying to hump maenads.

4&6.    Maenads using their thyrsoi to calm satyrs down. 4 is wearing a deer skin and holding a live snake.

5.         Dionysis.  He is wearing a chiton and a himation and is carrying an empty kanthanos (wine-cup).  He is carrying a vine-prop and grapes as well.


Upper frieze:

Side A:      3 athletes; the central figure and the left one are holding javelins, the other holds a discus.  There is a discus and a pick on the ground.


Side B:      Again 3 athletes, the middle youth holds a discus shown frontally.  There is a pick on the ground.  Between the middle and the right athletes are suspended an aryballos, containing oil for anointing, and a sponge bag.



The neck is sharply set off from the body, which tapers to a very small foot.  This shape was introduced in the early 5th century.  The main frieze encircles the vase.  It is bordered above by stylised tongues, and below by meanders with crosses in squares.  Below the border there is a series of bands: black, red, ray band, red line, and a black base.



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