The Donor...>>

Fragment from a grave black figure tablet

Material: Clay
Provenance: From a tomb at Spata, eastern Attica.
Gift of the Vlastos-Serpieri family
Height: 0.37m. Inv. no: ΣΒ 512
Exhibition place: Room 60, Case 8, no. 4

The fragment comes from a rectangular tablet intended to ornament a grave. It depicts two men wearing a cloak and walking towards the right. The man who is fully preserved is raising his right hand and opening his mouth. Judging from similar, intact, works it is to be conjectured that the composition showed a chorus-like gathering of men, who are making their farewells by lamenting the deceased (prothesis). Anatomical details and garments are rendered by means of a few fluent incisions.

The painting is attributed to the potter, and most probably painter, Lydos, who along with Amasis and Exekias make up the trio of the most important craftmen of the black-figure style. His signature on a cauldron and an amphora implies that he was probably a foreigner from Lydia, who was trained and produced vases that followed Attic traditions. Active from before 560 BC to about 535 BC, Lydos had many pupils in his workshop and his artistic influence spread beyond Attica. He drew scenes dealing with burial customs on vases of various shapes.

Despite its partial state of preservation, the tablet offers important evidence pertaining to the lost works of monumental painting of the Archaic period. Its flat surface and the height of the figures, much greater than those on vases, recalls the treatment and rendering of scenes in large scale. In the notebook in which he recorded his purchases, the collector Michael Vlastos notes that he bought the fragments of the clay tablet by Lydos at Spata, in eastern Attica, from the antiques dealer Theodoros Giannopoulos for 4,483 drachmas on 11 September 1934.

Bibliography: Μ. Τiverios, Ο Λυδός και το έργο του. Συμβολή στην έρευνα της αττικής μελανόμορφης αγγειογραφίας, Δημοσιεύματα του Αρχαιολογικού Δελτίου no. 23, Αthens 1976.

Position in the museum