'Gnathia-Ware' black-glazed calyx krater

Greek, Attic, 4th century B.C.
H. 53.2 cm (20 15⁄16 in) Diam. 46.5 cm (18 5⁄16 in)

Sotheby’s Antiquities, New York,1991
Private collection, Switzerland, acquired from the above

G. Kopcke
Golddekorierte Attische Schwarzfirniskeramik des vierten Jahrhunderts v. Chr., in: Athenische Mitteilungen 79, Berlin, 1964, 31, 68, pl. 18.1

Florian S. Knauss-Jörg Gebauer
Black is beautiful. Griechische Glanztonkeramik. Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek München, 2019

Karl Masner
Die Sammlung antiker Vasen und Terracotten im K.K. Oestereich. Museum. Katalog und Historischje Einleitung, Wien 1892, 63, Taf. VIII, 445

John Joseph Hermann
In the Shadow of the Acropolis, Popular and Private Art in 4th Century Athens, Brockton Art Museum, 1984, p. 45 no. 42

Beryl Barr-Sharrar
Major New Evidence for the Date and Athenian Origin of the Derveni Krater: A 4th century B.C. Bronze Calyx Krater with Overlaid Silver Garland from the Same Workshop, in: Eckhard Deschler-Erb, Philippe Della Casa (eds.). New Research on Ancient Bronzes. Acta of the XVIIIth International Congress on Ancient Bronzes. Zurich Studies in Archaeology, Vol. 10, 2015, 63–68.

Black is beautiful. Griechische Glanztonkeramik. Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek München, 24.7.2019-6.1.2020

The cone-shaped body culminates in a broad, flaring rim and rests on a high, elegant stem foot. A raised collar at the foot neck resembles  the soldering ring of bronze examples. The centre of the body is decorated with an applied, gilt wreath of delicately rendered grape vine. An ionian kymation (ovolo) adorns the outer rim, while the rest of the body is covered in a shiny, black glaze that suggests the influence of metalwork.

From the mid 6th to late 5th century BC, the city of Athens was considered the unrivalled 'market leader' in the production of fine ceramics. From then on, Attic potters and painters also produced high quality tableware using black glaze. Together with black and red-figure pottery, this sought-after ceramic was exported in huge quantities.

In recent years, the cultural significance of black-glazed pottery has been recognised both by scholars and collectors, and is thought to represent a tradition of imitating metalwork with high quality pottery (cf. Beryl Barr-Sharrar 2015). Certain black-glazed pottery vases, such as this krater, can be regarded as equals to the best work of Attic pottery.

Attic black-glazed vessels were found in Thessaly, Pontos, Egypt, Cyrenaica, Samos, Kalymnos, Rhodos, Southern Italy and France. As a general rule, an ionian kymation is found on the lip, with a vine motif around the centre of the calyx and a single ring on the base of the handles. A more ornate decoration is uncommon (cf. the calyx craters at the British Museum, London, inv. 18717-22.3 and at the Karashiki Ninagawa Museum, Okayawwa, Japan). The most notable parallel to this vase, in form, size and decoration, is the calyx krater kept at the Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien (inv. IV 3732).

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