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Shortly before 500 BC, the Athenian vase painter Euthymides wrote on one luxury vessel that he had painted it “as Euphronios never” could have done. With this phrase he recorded his rivalry with an apparently younger competitor, one who (if we correctly read the evidence) first painted and later potted his own vessels – thus developing an enviable career from worker to workshop owner. His painting certainly matches that of Euthymides in terms of inventiveness and the fine figural rendering. The Berlin vessel, a kalyx krater for mixing wine and water, names neither painter nor potter; but the large figural scenes between widely-set handles can be convincingly connected to works signed by Euphronios. The two sides depict six young Athenian ephebes before and after a round of athletic training, attended by their servant boys and a supervisor. Each of the ephebes is named by a painted label. One of them, Leagros, is singled out here – as he is on many other vases – with the designation kalos (handsome). Interestingly, Leagros is also mentioned in Greek historical texts: forty years later he became a military general in northern Greece and perhaps even died there. Here, however, he appears with other young men in a frieze of quite unusual composition. It focuses on bodily poses, from quiet and concentrated to broad and affected. In one example, the leftmost grouping, a young man (Hippomedon) faces the back left while holding up his left leg for a crouching boy (Tranion) to massage. The ephebe leans on a knobby staff placed at the extreme end of the picture frame, yet turns his upper body fully around – exposing his shoulder blades and profile head facing toward the right – in order to support himself on Tranion’s head as well. Next to them, sketches for the ephebe pouring oil (Hegesias) are still visible; these helped the painter finish the figure in reserve or outline the contours of the dark background. The artistic prowess that informed these drawings is also evident in the tendrils and palmettes, five of which line up below the figural scenes while others fill the space between the two sides above the handles.

Details

  • Title: At the gymnasium
  • Creator: Euphronios
  • Date Created: c. 515 BC
  • Location: From Capua/ Southern Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: w446 x h348 cm
  • Type: Krater
  • Medium: Clay
  • Inv.-No.: F 2180
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-814319
  • External link: Altes Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Verlag Philipp von Zabern / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Wolf-Dieter Heilmeyer || Photo: © b p k - || Photo Agency / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Johannes Laurentius
  • Collection: Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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