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Red-figured wine bowl (volute-krater), attributed to the Baltimore Painter


Height: 88.900 cm

Hamilton Collection

GR 1772.3-20.14* (Vases F 284)

Room 73: Greeks in Italy

    Red-figured wine bowl (volute-krater), attributed to the Baltimore Painter

    Greek, around 325 BC
    Made in Apulia (modern Puglia); perhaps from Bari, Apulia, Italy

    'The Hamilton Vase'

    The principal scene depicted on this wine bowl is dominated by a white-painted naiskos (small temple) and its occupant, a youth and his horse. The two Ionic columns at the front are attached to short side walls. The pediment above them is decorated with acroteria and a central ornament, and the ceiling beams are shown receding into the distance. The whole structure stands on a high plinth decorated with a spiral design. Inside, the youthful warrior is accompanied by his horse; behind him hang his breastplate and his greaves. The added white used for the building and its occupants suggests they were made either of marble or of stuccoed limestone. Many fragments of such monuments have been excavated in Taranto. The scene on the back of the vase shows a visit to a simpler form of tomb.

    In the course of the fourth century BC, vase painting in Apulia grew increasingly ornate. The elaborate decoration on the neck of this vase, where a female head emerges from an intricate design of scrolls and flowers, is characteristic of late Apulian style.

    The vase was one of the finest pieces in the first collection of Sir William Hamilton. It was given star treatment in Baron d'Hancarville's great publication of the Hamilton vases, Antiquités Etrusques, Grecques et Romaines, tirées du Cabinet de M. William Hamilton, Envoyé extraordinaire et plenipotentaire de S.M. Britannique en Cours de Naples (Naples, 1766-67, recte 1767-76) and Josiah Wedgwood produced several replicas of it in black basalt.

    I. Jenkins and K. Sloan, Vases and Volcanoes: Sir Willi (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)

    A.D. Trendall, Red figure vases of South Ital (New York, Thames and Hudson, 1989)

    D. Williams, Greek vases (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)

    L. Burn, The British Museum book of G-1, revised edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


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    On display: Room 73: Greeks in Italy

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