Mixing bowl (bell krater)

Greek
Early Classical Period
about 470 B.C.
the Pan Painter


Place of Manufacture: Greece, Attica, Athens

Catalogue Raisonné

Caskey-Beazley, Attic Vase Paintings (MFA), no. 094; Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 034.

Dimensions

Height: 37 cm (14 9/16 in.); diameter: 42.5 cm (16 3/4 in.)

Accession Number

10.185

Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Red Figure

On View

Greek Archaic Gallery (Gallery 113)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Vessels

Two sided red-figure bell krater used for mixing wine and water.
Side A: Artemis shooting an arrow at Aktaion who has fallen to the ground attacked by his hunting dogs. Aktaion was a hunter, and the goddess of the hunt killed him by turning him into a stag, so that his own dogs tore him to pieces. This elegant rendering of the myth, with Artemis drawing her bow for the coup de grace, and the helpless hero sinking beneath the onslaught of the hounds, is considered one of the greatest of all Athenian vase paintings.

Side B: The artist is named the Pan Painter after this scene of the goat-god Pan chasing a young shepherd wearing a fawn-skin (nebris), and a rustic sun hat. The god of flocks obviously has love on his mind, perhaps inspired by the ithyphallic herm standing on a hill in the background. Herms were stone or wooden shafts with the head of the god Hermes, rudimentary arms, and a large carved phallos. Apart from their religious significance, which is poorly understood, they often served to mark boundaries and the intersections of roads. The rustic setting of this herm relates it to Priapos, or some other god of fertility.

Pan is not represented in Athenian art until after the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C., when he was said to have caused a “panic” in the Persian ranks. When one remembers that, like the Persians, Aktaion was punished for his pride, and that his death occurred on the slopes of Mt. Kithairon, the site of the Persian defeat at Plataia, the entire vase becomes a symbol and a memorial of triumph of Athens over Persians.

Condition: Broken and repaired.

Provenance

By 1910: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: bought in Sicily; said to be from Cumae); purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren, June 2, 1910, for $4,000.00 (this figure is the total price for MFA 10.159-10.230)

Credit Line

Julia Bradford Huntington James Fund and Museum purchase with funds donated by contribution