A beautiful black-figure skyphos from Attica, coming from a well-known collection, published and attributed to a known workshop!
This rather large skyphos was made in the early fifth century B.C. on the potter’s wheel, using fine reddish clay which received a black glaze and has applied white and red paint. The body has a projecting foot and two handles. The inside of the vessel, the rim, the outer side of the handles, the lower part of the outside and the upper part of the foot were glazed.
The scene on both sides is almost identical, showing a dancing girl, surrounded by two dancing youths who have their bodies turned away from her but look back at her. The scene is framed on both sides by a squatting sphinx, turned away from the dancers, and by lines above and below; there is a frieze of dots near the foot.
The decoration was done very elegantly with some incised lines. The adornment of the hair and the pattern on the clothes was added in red colour, the face and arms of the women and the face and neck of the sphinxes in white colour.
The abbreviation "CHC Group" stands for "Chariot Courting Group", which was related to the Heron Class, see Beazley, Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters (ABV), p. 617-623 and 711. The group produced especially skyphoi (123 are listed by Beazley, apart from the ones produced by artists connected with the CHC Group, p. 623-626). Most of these skyphoi display sphinxes at the handles, sometimes with palmettes (ABV nos. 1-61, 70-72, 74-75, 78-79, 81, 83-84). Other vase shapes by the group are mentioned on p. 622: a stemless cup and three pyxides. Their work was popular and was even copied in Boeotian art.
Especially interesting for our skyphos are parallels with dancing women and sphinxes at the handles in Bologna (inv. 131 and 133, ABV no. 75 and 70), Taranto (inv. 6400, ABV no. 71), Athens (inv 360 (CC798), ABV no. 70, Agora inv. P1141 and P4152, ABV nos. 78 and 72), Paris (Musée Rodin 644, ABV no. 74), Thera (inv. AM28,183, ABV no. 81 and Thebes (inv. R5.20, from Rhitsona, ABV no. 83, compare ABV 84, now lost) and Naples (Astarita, ABV 71bis, p. 711). There are also two skyphoi with an almost identical decoration in Paris (Bibliothèque Nationale), both published by Lambrino.
A skyphos by the CHC Group sold for GBP 5,625 (= US$ 8,600 or € 6,500) at auction (Christie’s Sale 5487 of 29 April 2010, lot 52) and another one for US$ 18,750 (= € 14,500) (Christie’s Sale 2056 of 9 December 2008, lot 83).
Kurt Deppert, Griechische Vasen (Weinheim, 1984), no. 12.
For the CHC Group see:
John D. Beazley, Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1956; reprinted 1978) 617-623, 711.;
John D. Beazley, Paralipomena. Additions to Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters and to Attic Red-Figure Vase-Painters (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1971), 306-308;
John Boardman, Athenian Black Figure Vases (London, 1974), fig. 292;
S. Lambrino, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, France Fasc. 10, Bibliothèque Nationale (Cabinet des Médailles) Fasc. 2, (Paris, 1931), pl. 70, 1-2 and 3-5;
Catherine Morgan - Gocha R. Tsetskhladze, Attic Fine Pottery of the Archaic to Hellenistic Periods in Phanagoria, Volume 1 (Colloquia Pontica, 10) (Leiden, Brill, 2004), p. 200, 232;
O.E. Borgers, The Theseus Painter. Style, Shapes and Iconography (Diss. Amsterdam, 2003), chapter II, p. 22-39;
For Boeotian copies of the CHC Group see:
K. Kilinski, Boeotian Black-figure Vase-painting of the Archaic Period (Mainz am Rhein, Philipp von Zabern, 1990), p. 59;
Victoria Sabetai, "Attic, Boeotian or Euboean? An orphan skyphos from Rhitsona revisited" in Donna Kurtz (ed.), Essays in Classical Archaeology for Eleni Hatzivassiliou 1977-2007 (Studies in Classical Archaeology IV) (Oxford, Beazley Archive and Archaeopress, 2008), p. 137-143.
Greece, Attica, early 5th century B.C.
Width 24.8 cm including handles, height 13.7 cm, diameter 18.0 cm.
Collection of Dr. Wilhelm Hartwig, Weinheim, Germany.
Condition: repaired from a few large fragments, a few spots with some damage, as visible on the photographs, a small area touched up; some irregular colouring caused when the skyphos was fired, white colour partly somewhat faded.