mid 4th century BCE
Materials: ceramic, & slip
This pottery fragment from an Apulian red-figure krater shows a scene from Greek mythology. The names of the two figures are written on the krater near the heads of each character, and are identified as Peleus and Phoenix. Peleus was one of the Argonauts, as well as one of the Calydonian boar hunters, and is best known for being the father of Achilles. Phoenix, a prince of the Dolopes, was blinded and exiled by his father, Amyntor, as punishment for seducing one of his father’s mistresses (or concubines). After fleeing his father’s kingdom Phoenix meets Peleus, who arranged for the centaur Chiron (or Cheiron) to heal Phoenix’s sight. With his sight restored Phoenix remained close friends with Peleus and his family, eventually fighting with Achilles’ Myrmidons in the Trojan War. The scene depicted on the krater fragment at the Sam Noble Museum shows Phoenix first meeting Peleus, prior to having his sight restored.
The fragment shown above, in the Sam Noble Museum collection, has been attributed to the Darius Painter. When identifying the maker or artist behind a piece of ancient pottery archaeologists typically group pieces together based on the style of the decoration or repeating themes in the designs. The painter (or workshop) referred to as the Darius Painter by archaeologists is named for a vase currently in the Museo Archaeologico Nazionale in Naples, Italy that depicts Darius, a Persian king. The Darius Painter is known for decorating very large Apulian red-figure vases. This painter (or workshop) worked in the so-called “Ornate” or “Rich” style of Apulian vase painting and would fill the surface of the vase with many figures and mythological scenes. Additionally, this painter (or workshop) was fond of labeling most of the figures on the vases with their name, which was helpful since he/they tended to depict mythological scenes that were not commonly used for vase painting. Instead, it is thought that the Darius Painter’s choices in subject matter and composition were influenced by theatrical productions. [Kathryn S. (Barr) McCloud]