9 Niobid painter - level3classicalstudies

Niobid Painter
Calyx krater
Basic Facts
Vase shape:calyx krater
Function: mixing wine & water
Niobid Painter
470-450 BC
named after this krater (which depicts Artemis & Apollo
killing the children of Queen Niobe)
influenced by wall painters (especially Polygnotos of
Thasos; and Mikon of Athens who decorated the Stoa
Poikele – his signature was to depict figures hidden
behind rocks or other stylised landscape)
also influenced by the sculpture of the time – he details
figures with raised relief lines of black glaze (instead of
the common honey-coloured dilute glaze used by other
vase painters)
the influence of sculpture can also be seen by the
restrained poses & severe features of the characters, all of
whom appear to float against the black glaze background,
separated from each other on the uneven groundline
the implied presense of a body - hidden behind a mound
so that all we can see is an arrow
true profile eyes
numerous groundlines (give the illusion of depth)
Subject – side A
the figures are unnamed so
there are three possible
the most plausible is:
Herakles’ journey to the
underworld to rescue
Theseus; Athena stands at
the entrance, while the
warrior behind the rock
may be Iolaos, outside
other interpretations: the
gathering of the Argonauts
/ the seven against Thebes
Subject – side B
Myth: Niobe was the mother of
seven sons and seven daughters.
She boasted that she had more
children than Leto, who only had
two. So in revenge, Leto’s
children (the twins Artemis &
Apollo) slaughtered the children
of Niobe (the ‘Niobids’). Apollo
and Artemis slew them all with
their arrows, Apollo shooting
the sons, Artemis the daughters.
They were buried by the gods at
Composition – side A
large number of figures in a
variety of poses
the semi-seated warriors left
leg overlaps the reclining
youth below him
uneven groundline – gives
illusion of depth
the higher the figure, the
further away they are
the groundline was purple but
little has survived (thus, some
of the figures look as if
Composition – side B
very crowded with a number
of figures
twin gods fill the centre
Apollo is slightly lower than
Artemis, perhaps suggesting
he is moving forward
Niobids painted on different
ground levels & in
foreshortened poses
(indicates depth)
the groundline is purple but
has mostly been lost
Figurative details – side A
 stands behind a warrior
 wears a chiton & an elaborate
 armed with goatskin aegis set
with head of Medusa
 has an Attic helmet with its
hinged nose & cheek flaps
pushed up
 below the goddess (leaning
on the cliff) is a frontally
facing shield decorated with a
wheel pattern
Figurative details – side A cont.
 stands in the centre
 bearded & wreathed
 naked except for his
famous lionskin thrown
over his left shoulder
 armed with knobbed club
and a bow
 turns to his right to glance
at a warrior (helps tie the
composition together)
Figurative details – side A cont.
 wears Thracian helmet with a horsehair
 the helmet has cheek flaps which the
warrior has pulled down over his face
 wears greaves
 clothed with an embroidered tunic
made up of many small folds
 leans on his spear
 carries a shield which has been depicted
from an inside, foreshortened view
Figurative details – side A cont.
Group of three warriors behind Athena
Warrior towards the top of the frieze
his body is partially hidden behind a rock
he twists around into a back view so he can gesture to his accompaniment
Second warrior
painted below the one mentioned above
naked except for a chlamys which he wears fastened across one shoulder
wears a helmet with a horse-hair crest
carries an elaborate shield emblazoned with the body of a writhing snake
also carries a spear
Third warrior
holding his spear
hangs his sword in its sheath beside him
helmet hangs around his neck on its strap
depicted frontally with his head in a ¾ view looking towards Athena
on a groundline deliberately higher than the others to avoid the space behind the handles
Figurative details – side A cont.
Warrior to the right of Herakles
 naked
 sits on his himation
 carries his sword in its sheath
 innovative pose – he turns his head
in a ¾ view so that he appears to
look out of the frieze towards the
viewer; he reaches down to grip his
knee, while his left leg hangs down
to brush the youth below
Figurative details – side A cont.
Reclining youth at bottom of frieze (Theseus?)
 naked
 reclines whilst supporting his upper torso
with his right hand
 holds two large spears in his left hand
 the outstretched right arm is balanced by
his bent left leg
 his right foot is turned outward in a
frontal pose
 his travelling hat, petassos, rests on his back
 his sword is slung on a strap across his
 his helmet and shield rest at his feet
Figurative details – side A cont.
Warrior with missing face on higher
 stands offering an elaborate
helmet decorated with a
chequerboard pattern to
 naked except for a chlamys
which he carries draped over his
 holds a spear and sword
Figurative details – side A cont.
Bearded man, far right
 wears a petassos
 raises his leg on a (now
invisible) piece of landscape
 face is turned in ¾ view to
stare ‘off’ the frieze
 dressed in transparent chiton so
that his elaborate musculature
is clearly visible
 wears his cloak around his neck
Figurative details – side A cont.
Man beside the horse
 probably one of the Dioscuri
 most likely placed there to balance his brother on the
other side of the vase
 naked except for his helmet
 holds two spears and a sword
Figurative details – side B
 is in the centre of the
 naked except for a cloak
which he carries over his
 wears a laurel wreath
 depicted shooting with his
 his quiver hangs empty
beside him
Figurative details – side B cont.
 stands behind her brother
 is in the process of pulling out
another arrow to fill her
empty bow
 wears a peplos with an
embroidered hem, clearly
fastened at each shoulder
 hair is in a sakkos
 wears some ornament on a
string around her neck
Figurative details – side B cont.
 lansdscape feature in front
of Apollo
Figurative details – side B cont.
Boy behind Artemis
 wrapped in a cloak
 pulls away from the
goddess in horror
 he has been hit in the
chest & will soon die
(like his siblings)
Figurative details – side B cont.
Dead girl in front of Artemis
 frontal face
 left arm is outflung
 hair is dishevelled around
her face
 still wears her
diadem/crown (so that the
viewer knows her royal
 an arrow sticks out of her
back (cause of death)
Figurative details – side B cont.
Dying boy below Apollo
 in the process of dying from an arrow in
his back
 he clutches at a rock on which he has
 face is in ¾ view so that we can see that
his eyes are closed and he is near death
 another arrow lies buried in the ground
beside him (but Apollo never misses so
it is suggested that there is a figure
behind a landscape feature here who has
also been shot)
Figurative details – side B cont.
Boy running
 running from Apollo who is
aiming at him
 has already been hit in the ribs
by another arrow
 his death is near
Non-figurative details
scene is framed by lotus & palmette chains
Eyes & Drapery
 true profile
 gives direction as to where the
figure is looking
 helps the figure become involved
and ties the composition together
 more realistic
 folds of material are soft
 drapery models the body
 zigzags are less sharp

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