Mixing bowl (calyx krater) with the killing of Agamemnon

Greek
Early Classical Period
about 460 B.C.
the Dokimasia Painter


Place of Manufacture: Greece, Attica, Athens

Catalogue Raisonné

Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 066.

Dimensions

Height: 51 cm (20 1/16 in.); diameter: 51 cm (20 1/16 in.)

Accession Number

63.1246

Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Red Figure

On View

Greek Classical Gallery (Gallery 215C)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Vessels

Both sides of this vase illustrate tragic scenes from the story of King Agamemnon’s return to Mycenae after the fall of Troy.

While Agamemnon was away at war, his wife Klytemnestra took as her lover Agamemnon’s cousin Aegisthos. On the king’s return home, Aegisthos and Klytemnestra plotted to kill Agamemnon. In one scene, Aegisthos gets ready to plunge a sword into Agamemnon, wet from the bath and trapped in a net. Klytemnestra carries an ax to assist her lover. Three other women witness the horrific crime. These women are perhaps Chrysothemis and Elektra, Agamemnon’s younger and older daughters, and Kassandra, his slave.

Following the first brutal murder, the honorable children of Klytemnestra and Agamemnon avenged the death of their father. Orestes, whipped to action by his sister Elektra, enters the palace to kill Aegisthos who was seated playing the lyre (barbitos). Elektra stands to the right encouraging her brother’s actions, while her mother Klytemnestra rushes in with a double axe aimed at her son’s head.

The Aeolic columns under the handles suggest the palace of Agamemnon and Klytemnestra at Mycenae.

Provenance

By 1958: with Robert E. Hecht, Jr.; purchased by MFA from Robert E. Hecht, Jr., September 18, 1963

Credit Line

William Francis Warden Fund