Terracotta amphora (jar)

Attributed to the Berlin Painter

Late Archaic
ca. 490 B.C.
Greek, Attic
Terracotta; red-figure
H. 16 5/16 in. (41.50 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1956
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Obverse, young man singing and playing the kithara
    Reverse, judge

    This work is a masterpiece of Greek vase-painting because it brings together many features of Athenian culture in an artistic expression of the highest quality. The shape itself is central to the effect. Through the symmetry, scale, and luminously glossy glaze on the obverse, it offers a carefully composed three-dimensional surface that endows the subject with volume. The identity of the singer is given by his instrument, the kithara, which was a type of lyre used in public performances, including recitations of epic poetry. The figure on the reverse is identified by his garb and wand. While the situation is probably a competition, the subject is the music itself. It transports the performer, determines his pose, and causes the cloth below the instrument to sway gently.

  • Provenance

    Said to be from Nola (Beazley 1963, p. 197, no. 3).

    May 22-23, 1919, purchased by W.R. Hearst from Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge, London; from 1919, collection of William Randolph Hearst, New York; acquired November 26, 1956, purchased from the Hearst Corporation.

  • References

    Noble, Joseph V. 1960. "The Technique of Attic Vase-Painting." American Journal of Archaeology, 64(4): pp. 307-18, fig. 2, pl. 85.

    Beazley, John D. 1963[1942]. Attic Red-Figure Vase-Painters, Vols. 1 and 2, 2nd edn. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 197, 1633, no. 3, Add. 1, pp. 196-214.

    Cole, Nancy. 1968. Greek Athletic Games. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 5.

    Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1970. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. New York: Dutton.

    von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1972. "Greek Vase Painting: An Introduction." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 31(1): no. 17, pp. 6, 42-3, 68.

    von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1972. Greek Vase Painting: An Introduction. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Levy, Kenneth. 1982. Music: A Listener's Introduction. New York: Harper & Row, Cover.

    1994. Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide: Works of Art Selected by Philippe De Montebello. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Hornblower, Simon and Antony Spawforth. 1998. The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 478.

    Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 118, pp. 108, 428-29.

  • See also