Black-figured hydria

On the body of the vase is a scene of five women at a spring. To right and left the scene is framed by a schematized ivy band.

To the right is shown a fountain house represented by a white Doric column and entablature in front of a lion-head spout. One woman fills a hydria that is resting beneath the spout. Two women have just filled their vessels and are leaving, while two others are approaching the spring.

The women wear long chitons and richly folded and decorated himatia.

The three central female figures hold sprigs of ivy that branch off in decorative fashion to fill the background of the scene. The details of their garments are shown by incision and with a purple colour applied with a brush. The nude parts of the body and the faces are shown in applied white. Applied purple is used for the pillows on the women’s heads and the lion-head spout.

The scene rendered on the vase is related to its use. Athenian women used hydrias to carry water from the public springs to their houses. Fountain-house scenes are frequent on Attic pottery of the late 6th century B.C., especially after 530 B.C. and are to be related with the building of many such structures by the Peisistratids.

In the zone below the main scene a panther is depicted between two wild goats and palmettes with spiral stems. The animals are shown symmetrically in a decorative composition.

A chariot race scene occupies the shoulder zone. Two four-horse chariots are driven at a gallop toward the right. Their bearded charioteers, clad in long white chitons, lean forward, encouraging with reins and goad their horses, whose forelegs are raised in a gallop. Chariot scenes were especially popular in Attic vase painting during the late 6th century B.C. The decoration of the vase is completed with a tongue pattern at the base of the neck and a ray pattern at the base of the body.

This carefully rendered scene has not been attributed to any known painter. Stylistic similarities relate it to the Antimenes Painter who painted many fountain-house scenes, inspired by the Peisistratid works in Athens, and influenced many contemporary artists. In particular, the figures of the women show similarities to the Artemis and Hekate on a black-figured hydria showing the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, in Cassel and with the Thetis that is shown struggling with Peleus on an amphora with Sirens attributed to the Eye – Siren Group. On this vase, the panthers and goats in the secondary decorative zones are reminiscent of the animals that decorate the zone below the main scene of the Canellopoulos hydria.

N. Saraga