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Identification and Creation
Object Number
1960.314
People
The Acheloos Painter, Greek (active late 6th century BCE)
Title
Neck Amphora (storage jar): Herakles and Erymanthian Boar; Warrior Farewell Scene
Classification
Vessels
Work Type
vessel
Date
510-500 BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Cerveteri (Etruria)
Period
Archaic period
Culture
Greek
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/288459
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Terracotta
Technique
Black-figure
Dimensions
40.9 x 27.9 cm (16 1/8 x 11 in.)
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
Beazley Archive Database #351253
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of David M. Robinson
Accession Year
1960
Object Number
1960.314
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
On one side: Herakles capturing the Erymanthian boar. The Erymanthian boar was a monster which plagued the central Peloponnese around Mt. Erymanthos, and it was one of Herakles’ labours to catch it. Herakles is identifiable especially by his characteristic lion skin (which he wears over a tunic (chiton)) and club, and is also equipped with a quiver and a sword in its scabbard. He stands facing right in mid-step at the back of the boar, and partly obscured by it, grasping the top of its head with his left hand and holding his club over it with his right. His lion skin is decorated with small incised double lines representing the fur, added red dots on its mane, and its teeth and claws are painted in added white. Herakles’ beard is also dotted with added red.

The boar occupies the center of the composition, facing to the right with its forelegs raised, and with added red dots on its neck, and with finely incised hair bristles along its back and tail. At the right, in front of the boar and facing left is the god Hermes, identifiable by his traveller’s cap (petasos), winged shoes and short cloak (chlamys). His cloak is decorated with a few dots in added red and white. His beard and his hat are also decorated with added red. His hair is tied into a bun. He reaches his left hand over the boar’s neck and behind Herakles’ arm, and holds his right hand up to his hat. In the background is a tree which is bearing white fruit.

On the other side: the farewell of a warrior? At the center of the scene are two figures standing side-by-side facing left behind a round shield. The figure in the front is the warrior who carries the shield, which is decorated with a leg-shaped device in added white, and has its rim colored in added red. He is wearing greaves and a Corinthian helmet, which interrupts the tongue frieze at the top of the body of the vase. He also seems to carry two spears. The other figure stands looking back over his shoulder to the right, carrying a quiver, visible below the shield, and which identifies him as an archer. He also wears a pointed cap which may suggest that he is a Scythian or other foreigner.

The two figures face an old man with hair and beard in added white at the left of the scene. He carries a scepter and wears a long cloak (himation) which is decorated with added red and white. He may be the father of one of the warriors. To the right, behind the warriors, is a woman, wearing a long cloak, with similar decoration to that of the old man. Her skin is colored with added white and she wears a red fillet in her hair. Both of her arms are covered by her cloak and she lifts her right hand to her face, as if wiping away tears.

The sides of the neck are decorated with a lotus and palmette chain, a band of red and black tongues decorates the top of the shoulder, and below the ground line, which is a single black line, there is a band of lotus framed by double lines, while below this, above the foot, there is a band of rays. Below the handles, between the two figural scenes there is a symmetrical decorative pattern of palmettes with tendrils and lotuses.
Commentary
Another vase by the Acheloos Painter also depicts Heracles in pursuit of the Erymanthian boar (Vatican 39522, BAPD 302397) in a similar composition, although without Hermes present, and Heracles holds a bow instead of a club. Also notable is an unattributed amphora (Louvre F236, BAPD 10739) which depicts a very similar composition with the addition of the figure of Athena standing behind Heracles; there are no published images of the other side, but it seems to depict, like the Harvard vase, the farewell of a hoplite, this time accompanied by a dog. An extensive catalog of nearly one-hundred depictions of Heracles and the Erymanthian boar on Greek vases was compiled by Stephen Bleecker Luce; however, this is an incomplete list, and the Harvard vase is not included. See:

Luce, Stephen Bleecker, “Studies of the Exploits of Heracles on Vases,” American Journal of Archaeology 28, no. 3 (1924): 296-325.

The Acheloos Painter’s name vase (Berlin 1851, BAPD 302396) features similar compositions to the Harvard amphora on both sides: on one side Heracles wrestles the centaur Acheloos, with Hermes looking on, although from behind rather than in front as on the Harvard vase; the other side depicts a near identical farewell of a hoplite and Scythian, with a leg-shaped device on the warrior’s shield, with the main differences being the addition of a dog at the feet of the warriors and a reversal of the woman and old man’s positions. Erik Holmberg has suggested that the Acheloos Painter’s farewell scenes, as exemplified by these two vases, were influential on other painters in the Leagros Group, and especially the Painter of Oxford 569, who painted four versions of the scene type. In particular, a neck-amphora attributed to the Painter of Oxford 569 and said to be in Rome in the collection of Schwarzenberg (BAPD 302180) bears a nearly identical scene to the Harvard vase, and might be directly influenced by it or a sketch of it. On this, and in general on the work and style of the Acheloos Painter, and his associations with other painters, particularly the so-called Leagros Group, see:

Erik J. Holmberg, The Red-line Painter and the workshop of the Acheloos Painter, Paul Åströms Förlag (Jonsered, 1990), 85-103, esp. 85-91.
Elizabeth Moignard, “The Acheloos Painter and Relations,” Annual of the British School at Athens 77 (1989): 201-11.

Traditionally, the kind of costume that the archer wears on this vase has been taken to identify a figure as non-Greek, and in particular as Scythian. This is the assumption of Lissarague’s extended study of these figures in Greek vase painting, in which he argues that the archer, when paired with a hoplite, as on this vase, acts as a subservient companion who serves to emphasise the epic heroism of the hoplite.

More recently, Ivantchik has suggested that it is a misinterpretation to understand these figures as “Scythians” and that in archaic Greek art this kind of costume should merely be taken to indicate that the figure is an archer. Mythological archers – including Paris, Parthenopaeus (one of the Seven Against Thebes) and Heracles – are often shown wearing this kind of costume. Eventually, in the classical period, after the Persian invasion of 480-479 B.C., this iconography does come to represent foreignness and is commonly used for depictions of Persians. See further:

Askvold Ivantchik, “‘Scythian’ Archers on Attic Vases: Problems of Interpretation,” Ancient Civilizations from Scythia to Siberia 12, vol. 3-4 (2006): pp. 197-271.
François Lissarrague, L'autre guerrier: archers, peltastes, cavaliers dans l'imagerie attique, La Découverte (Paris, 1990), pp. 97-123.
Publication History

David Moore Robinson, "Unpublished Greek Vases in the Robinson Collection", American Journal of Archaeology (Jan., 1956), vol. 60, no. 1, pp. 1-25, pp. 10-11, pl. 7 figs. 33-35a

J. D. Beazley, Paralipomena: Additions to Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters and to Attic Red-Figure Vase-Painters, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, England, 1971), p. 169, no. 4bis

François Lissarrague, L'autre guerrier: archers, peltastes, cavaliers dans l'imagerie attique, Éditions la découverte (Paris, 1990), p. 254, cat. A102.

Erik J. Holmberg, The Red-line Painter and the workshop of the Acheloos Painter, Paul Åströms Förlag (Jonsered, Sweden, 1990), pp. 85-91.

Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Artemis (Zürich, Switzerland, 1999), Vol. 5, Herakles 2102.

Exhibition History

The David Moore Robinson Bequest of Classical Art and Antiquities: A Special Exhibition, Fogg Art Museum, 05/01/1961 - 09/20/1961

32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/23/2019 - 05/13/2019

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu