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Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Penthesilea Painter

The Penthesilea Painter, active between 470 and 450 BCE in Athens, Greece, was named from a red-figure vase which depicts the slaying of Penthesilea by Achilles. Using the painting style of that vase, classicist John Beazley attributed 177 known vases to the painter.  His work has been found on bowls, skyphoi, kantharoi and bobbins (or possibly yoyos).

His work is characterised by large, space-filling figures whose posture is often bent so as to permit them to fit on a vessel. For the same reason, ornamental decoration around the edges is often very narrow. His works are also characterised by being very colourful, permitting several intermediate shades. Apart from dark coral red and the usual light red, he also used tones of brown, yellow, yellow-white and gold. His figures are painted remarkably meticulously in every detail.

The Penthesilea Painter's works are dominated by depictions of boys and youths engaged in athletic activity, teaching scenes, weaponry and armour, as well as scenes of people talking to horses. While he painted the occasional mythological motif, they are so rare that they should be considered an exception among his work. Throughout his career, scenes from everyday life gain an increasingly dominant share of his paintings.

Terracotta bobbin (or yoyo) ca. 460–450 B.C.E., Attributed to the Penthesilea Painter at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This side, Nike (the personification of victory) offering fillet (band) to youth.

Terracotta bobbin (or yoyo) ca. 460–450 B.C.E., Attributed to the Penthesilea Painter at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This side, Eros and Youth.

Achilles killing Penthesilea. Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix, 470–460 BCE. From Vulci. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Bibi Saint-Pol.


Zeus and Ganymede. Penthesilea Painter. 470 BCE. Ferrara Archaeological Museum courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor Mapk1978.

 

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