Bell Krater (Mixing Bowl For Wine And Water): Scene From A Comic Play
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2007.104.4
People
Attributed to The McDaniel Painter
Title
Bell Krater (mixing bowl for wine and water): Scene from a Comic Play
Classification
Vessels
Work Type
vessel
Date
400-370 BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Apulia
Period
Classical period, Late
Culture
Greek
Location
Level 3, Room 3400, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Terracotta
Technique
Red-figure
Dimensions
30 cm h x 33.5 cm diam (11 13/16 x 13 3/16 in.)
Provenance
Dr. Jacob Hirsch, Geneva, (by 1955). [Adolph Hess AG, Lucerne, and William H. Schab, New York, Auction in Hotel Schweizerhof, Lucerne, December 7, 1957, lot 30], sold; to Department of Classics, Harvard University, Cambridge, 1957, transferred; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2007.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Alice Corinne McDaniel Collection, Department of the Classics, Harvard University
Accession Year
2007
Object Number
2007.104.4
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Description
Pinkish-buff fabric with glossy black slip, misfired below handles, in the area between the two youths on the B-side of the vase, and within the doorway of the A-side scene. Added white and yellow in a good state of preservation. Low, thick, circular base tapers upward very slightly to a reserve band, and is flat on top. Narrow foot curves tightly outward to form a broad bell, with broad lip. Horizontal loop handles turn slightly upward and inward at ends and project as far as the lip of the vessel. A laurel band runs just beneath the lip. Beneath A- and B-side scenes is a meander border broken periodically by an X-shape within a square. The vase is in very good condition, unbroken with only minor cracks on the interior surface, and minor chipping, particularly around the lip.

On the obverse is a simple stage (Type I, Trendall, Phlyax) without supporting columns. A phlyax stands on the left with a Doric column behind him. He wears padded tights and jacket and a black bordered cloak. Concealed within the folds of the cloak are yellow and white objects. He wears a headband and his hair and beard are white (Type L, Phlyax). In his right hand he holds a crooked staff.

To the far right is a double door through which has just come an old woman, who advances towards the phlyax with outstretched arms. She wears a long-sleeved peplos with a thick black border. She has short white hair and a straight nose, and her mouth is open (Type R, Phlyax). Hanging above and between the two figures is a comic mask with a good head of hair, short beard, and open mouth (Type B, Phlyax).

On the reverse, two youths stand facing each other. The one to the left holds a staff in his right hand; his right shoulder is bare. The youth to the right has both arms concealed in his himation. Between them hang a pair of weights, symbol of the palaestra.

This is the name-piece of the McDaniel Painter. Particularly characteristic of this artist are the thin laurel leaves around the rim and the relatively small meander.


Commentary
In the fourth century, South Italian red-figure ware provided stiff competition for the Attic pottery industry, eventually replacing it as the import of choice in many markets. The so-called phlyax vessels, produced in greatest numbers in the workshops of Apulia and Paestum, are widely thought to show scenes either from a form of South Italian comedic drama parodying the heroes and themes of Attic tragedy, or from the re-performance of Attic comedy in South Italy (see Cambitoglu and Trendall 1978. See also S. Douglas Olson, Broken Laughter, Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 14ff). The actors, known as phlyakes, are depicted in masks and padded suits, and often sport exaggerated phalluses. Their appearance on these vases, along with components of stage buildings and sets, gives some insight into ancient Greek theater production. The McDaniel Painter, an otherwise anonymous Apulian vase painter, derives his name from this krater's attribution to him. His work is characterized by the thin laurel leaves below the rim of the vessel and the small meander pattern at the ground line of the scene.


Andreya Mihaloew, 2008
Publication History

Anne Bromberg, "A Phlyax Vase in the McDaniel Collection", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1959), Vol. LXIV, pp. 237-245, pp. 237-245, pls. I-II

Dr. Anneliese Kossatz-Deissmann, Medeas Widderzauber als Phlyakenparodie, J. Paul Getty Museum (2000), p. 201, fig. 13

Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2006-7 (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 13, repr.

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/Handbook, exh. cat. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2008)

[Reproduction Only], Persephone, (Spring 2004).

Exhibition History

Re-View: S422 Ancient & Byzantine Art & Numismatics, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/2008 - 06/18/2011

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted