The hydria recently acquired by the Institute is Attic work of 520-500 B.C., and the artist is the Antimenes Painter, so called from the inscription on a hydria in Leyden.1
He was the head of a busy workshop and he had many colleagues who painted more or less exactly in his manner. The Minneapolis vase is by the Antimenes Painter himself.The decoration is particularly rich. The chief picture, that on the body of the vase, represents the harnessing of Athena's chariot. Below this, in a “predella,” lions and wild boars. On the shoulder, Herakles and Kyknos. On the upper side of the mouth, a chariot-race. Large body-picture, small shoulder-picture, that is the rule in Attic black-figure hydriai; and the animal predella is common; but a picture on the upper side of the mouth is rare; rare is also the band of tongues (leaves) on the upper surface of the foot; and very rare the palmettes on the side-handles.Chariot-scenes are a favorite subject in vase painting, especially on hydriai; and the harnessing of the four-horse chariot is often represented on hydriai both in this workshop and elsewhere.2
The composition is usually the same in its main lines, but varies in detail. The direction is rightward. The two pole-horses are already attached, and the trace-horses, muzzled, are being led up. The owner of the chariot stands on the left, holding the reigns, and with one foot in the chariot-car, not mounting, but keeping the pole, horses steady. The chief expert, middle-aged often, indeed, white-haired, dressed in the long robe of the charioteer, stands, to the right, on the left side of the pole-horses, preparing the harnessing and the off trace-horses, often assisted by a man or youth who bends to left with his head concealed by the horses.A man or youth stands at the horses' heads, soothing them. The harness of the trace-horses hangs in a bunch from the shoulders of their companions. On the present vase, the expert wears a hat—petasos—as well as the long chiton, and shoulders a goad. The men who bring up the pole-horses are both naked; one of them has a short beard, the other has a longer beard and wears a hat of oriental mode. The owner of the chariot is Athena, who wears chiton, aegis, helmet with high crest, and holds a spear as well as the reins. In pictures where the chariot is Athena's, it is sometimes Herakles who brings up one of the trace-horses. He is usually fully dressed in his lion skin, club in hand. Here the bare-headed man, from the cut of his beard and hair, may well be Herakles.On the shoulder of the vase, Herakles, sword in hand, faces Kyknos, who attacks with a spear. He is backed by his father Ares; Herakles, by Athena. In the middle Zeus himself intervenes. On the extreme right, two deities: a god, perhaps Poseidon, and a goddess, perhaps Amphitrite.The racing scene on the upper side of the mouth consists of six four-horse chariots at full speed. The pillar forming the starting-point is given, and also (the upper part missing) the pillar forming the turning-point. The three round things in the region of the pillars (as may be seen from the profile view of the vase) are imitations of the rivers fastening the back-handle to the mouth in bronze
Referenced Works of Art
- I have given accounts of this painter in the Journal of Hellenic Studies, 47 pp. 63-92, in Development of Attic Black-figure, pp. 79-81 and 115, and in Attic Black-figure Vase-painter, pp. 266-29, 681-82, and 715.
- On such scenes see Wrede in Athenische Mitteilungen 41 pp. 335-354.A specially good harnessing picture, simpler and earlier than ours, is on a hydria by the Antimenes Painter in the British Museum (B 204: Journal of Hellenic Studies 47 pl. 13; Development pl. 38, 3; Corpus Vasorum pl. 76, 1 and pl. 77, 1). The Antimenes Painter's other versions of the subject are mentioned in Attic Black-figure Vase-Painters pp. 266-7 nos. 5-8. See also two hydriai by a contemporary painter, Psiax, one, long known, in Berlin (Development pl. 36, 2), the other recently acquired by the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut (Wadsworth Atheneum Bulletin, summer 1961 pp. 2-4 and cover).
- Antimenes Painter, Attic, 6th century B.C. Hydria, 520-500 B. C. Black-figure ceramic, 20 1/8” x 16 3/8”. The John R. Van Derlip Fund, 1961, 61.59.
- Antimenes Painter, Attic, 6th century B.C. Hydria (detail: mouth), 520-500 B. C. Black-figure ceramic, 20 1/8” x 16 3/8”. The John R. Van Derlip Fund, 1961, 61.59.