Same Same and Not So Different


Left: Storage Jar with Kapaneus, Greece 340 BC, Getty Collection

Middle: Campanian Red-Figured Bail Amphora, fourth century BC, Stites Collection provenance: English private collection

Right: Red-Figure Bail Amphora (Storage Vessel): Draped Women, 330-320 BC, Cleveland Museum of Art


When we went to the Getty, we were amazed at how similar our amphora was to the highlighted Greek storage jar in their antiquities collection, dated to the same time period of 4th Century BC. We were even more surprised when we found a near-identical piece to ours at the Cleveland Museum of Art, attributed to the same time frame as well to the same artist, the first painter of note in Campania, identified as CA (Cumae A). Wow. We have a little giggle over what it might be like for them to conceive their work to not just have survived, but also awed over 2500 years later. Truly all three are wonderful pieces to behold, remarkably intact and sturdy. From wine to olive oil, these amphoras, or storage jars, were some of the first production objects, known as blackware or redware, referencing the figures in those respective clay bodies. Whites, golds, and other colors were added after firing, but what's perhaps more interesting about these objects are the narratives so epically (no pun intended) illustrated on their surfaces. Each circuitous panel narrates a scene of the Greek myth canon. The Getty piece highlights a scene from the myth of the Seven Against Thebes, The Seven were the ones who were appointed to return the throne to Oedipus' son, Polynices. This particular piece points to the moment when the hero Kapaneus “scales the walls of Themes in an attempt to seize the city. His boast that even the gods could not hold him back angered Zeus, who struck him down with a thunderbolt”.* Ours, like the Cleveland piece, represent three Maenads, followers of Dionysus. They direct their attention not just to each other, but also to the altar close by, a sign to the rites they hold so delightfully dear as stewards of Thiasus' retinue. On the other side is a conversation, perhaps between men, dressed. Foliage decoration along the sides no doubt inspire future curls of late mid-century psychedelia. Though ours might no longer hold the promise of pinot in the rough at a funerary Dionysian festival, it could very well inspire a private collection of ancient secrets. We welcome your inquiries, comments, and visits to chat about the intersections of all these aspects that we treasure so much. So, yes, drop in for a hello, and a gander of this and other epic-driven museum-quality antiques. Soon and best,

Philip and Patricia

*source: Getty Antiquities Collection