The 'Hunt krater'

Greek, about 575-550 BC
Made in Corinth; found near Capua, Campania, Italy

'The imbecility of art in its infancy'

This large Corinthian column-krater (bowl for mixing wine with water) was acquired by the collector Sir William Hamilton (1730-1803) and subsequently played a significant role in the attempts of eighteenth-century antiquaries to trace the origins and development of ancient Greek art.

The main illustration is of a boar hunt with the names of six of the hunters written in Greek. Previously scholars had believed that vases like this were made by the Etruscans, an early group of inhabitants of Italy. But the Greek writing on this example led Hamilton and d'Hancarville, who catalogued Hamilton's collection, to think that they were made by Greek artisans.

D'Hancarville considered it one of the earliest surviving examples of ancient painting, saying that it was close to 'the imbecility of art in its infancy'. He dated it to before 658 BC and believed that it was made by Greek workers who had set up a workshop at Capua in Italy. This followed the thinking of contemporary scholars such as Johann Winckelmann (1717-68), who had also begun to argue that these vases were made by Greeks.

We now know that these vases were imported to Italy from Greece. This example came to Italy from Corinth.

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More information


K. Sloan (ed.), Enlightenment. Discovering the (London, The British Museum Press, 2003)

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

L. Burn, 'Sir William Hamilton and the Greekness of Greek Vases', Journal of the History of Coll, 9 no. 2 (1997), pp. 241-252


Height: 27.900 cm

Museum number

GR 1772.3-20.6 (Vase B37)


Hamilton Collection


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