Culture: Etruscan
Date: 510 – 500 B.C.
Medium: Pottery.
Condition: Restored.
Provenance: Ex- Munzen und Medaillen, Basel, Switzerland; Patricia Kluge collection, Charlottesville, Virginia, acquired from Royal Athena, 1990.
Dimensions: H. 10 7/8 in. (27.5 cm.)
Ref No.  ETP21


Although such a vessel is often referred to as a kyathos, this is a misnomer. A Kyathos is a dipper, a smaller and more delicate vessel with a ring foot. It is primarily an attic shape, but there are few Etruscan black-figure examples, including at least one by the Micali Painter: Galerie Gunter Puhze, Kunst der Antike, Katalog 8, no. 185

This type is a one-handled kantharos, a type also known in Attic black-figure (see Beazley, AVB346). The Etruscan black-figure examples descend from a smaller shape in Bucchero, and it is likely that the Attic examples were produced with Etruscan markets in mind. The one-handled kantharos was a favorite shape of the Micali Painter, who painted at least 15 others. Most of these also have the knobs on the rim and many have the rounded flanges on the handle. Frequently decorated with dolphins: e.g. Boston 13:92; A. Fairbanks, Catalogue of Greek and Etruscan Vases I. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Cambridge, Mass. 1928) pl. 77, no. 576. The plastic head on our piece, however, is unique and may derive from bucchero examples, thus making this vase extremely rare.

The style of drawing is typical of the Micali Painter, the most talented and prolific of the Etruscan vase painters of the late 6th Century B.C.. These artists imitated the Attic black-figure vases so popular in Etruria, but in a manner-and on shapes-that left no doubt to their initative nature. The Micali Painter is named after Giuseppe Micali (d. 1844), an Italian Etruscologist. The bulk of the painter’s vases were dug up in the early 19th century excavatkions of Vulci by Napolion Bonaparte’s brother, Lucian. The figures of the Micali Painter have a distinctive character that recalls the early naivete of Etruscan wall paintings, Beazley said the Micali Painter “has a jolly, slogging style, and must have enjoyed himself” (EVP, 1-2).

The body decorated with ram, wolf, sphinx, leopard, and a lion. The handle front has a dancing youth, and the handle flanges have dolphins on either side. The dancing youth on our vase, probably a drunken reveler, or “komast”‘ occupies the position frequently occupied by a dancing satyr or a siren. Sphinxes, leopards, and lions appear on many of the painter’s vases, rams are uncommon, and the wolf is unique. The band of ivy leaves around the rim is one of the painter’s favorite ornamental motifs. There are round flanges on the top of the handle, and between these, facing inward, is a plastic head of a female wearing a pointed hat: a tutulus.

For the Micali Painter, see T. Dohm, Die Schwartzfigurign, etruskischen, Vases aus der 2. Halfter des 6. Jarhunderts, Berlin 1927; J.D. Beazley, Etruscan Vase Painting, Oxford, 1947, 1-3, 12-15, and 29596; Nigel J. Spivey, The Micali Painter and his Followers, Oxford, 1987; and Un artista etrusco e il suo mondo. II pittore di Micali, exhib. Cat. Villa Giulia, Rome, 1988.

Published: Spivey, p. 24, no. 151 (with the sphinx called a siren, the wolf a dog, and the youth a satyr}; J. Eisenberg, Art of the Ancient World Volume V, Part I, 1988, no. 47.