Black-figure band cup

last half of 6th century B.C.E.

Dallas Museum of Art

Dallas Museum of Art

The compositions on both sides of the vase are set between stylized palmettes and resemble each other quite closely. Each frieze of armed men contains three horsemen holding spears and wearing short white tunics and, except for a figure in the center of one side, cloaks. Interspersed around the horsemen are three warriors in armor, all with spears, and two men wearing or holding cloaks. The warriors wear low-crested helmets and greaves and hold round shields. These last vary in decoration: a ram, a starburst, and a lion for shield blazons on one side, and a starburst and a lion on the other, with the middle shield once covered with white paint. The rows of dots in the field around the figures give the semblance of letters in inscriptions, often without meaning, that regularly contribute to the subsidiary decoration of a figured scene.

The subjects of war and fighting were common to ancient Greek culture and are frequently found in Greek art. In the scenes on this cup, the artist seems less interested in depicting actual combat than in rendering different types of combatants. They are not engaged with one another but simply put on display as miniature studies. Band cups belong to the category of "Little Master Cups" and were popularized in Athens from the 550s to about 520 B.C. The reserved strip between the handles accounts for the name and carries the figure decoration. Painters of these cups preferred a miniature scale for the figures, and the cup pictured here displays the artist's ability to design his scenes with a multitude of characters with appropriate detail and still allow for adequate spacing. The crowded scenes on the band cup filled with warriors and artificial inscriptions recall those in the Group of Louvre F 81.

Ann R. Bromberg and Karl Kilinski II, Gods, Men, and Heroes: Ancient Art at the Dallas Museum of Art. (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1996), 67.

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  • Title: Black-figure band cup
  • Date Created: last half of 6th century B.C.E.
  • culture: Greek; Attic
  • Physical Dimensions: Overall: 7 1/4 x 14 7/8 x 11 1/4 in. (18.415 x 37.78 x 28.57 cm)
  • Type: Containers
  • External Link: https://www.dma.org/object/artwork/4259155/
  • Medium: Ceramic


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