Spitzamphora des Kleophradesmalers

Staatliche Antikensammlungen und Glyptothek


The decoration of the pointed amphora, decorated in Athens in c.500 BC, expresses the power of Dionysus, god of vegetation. Unmixed wine was kept in pointed amphorae. It was diluted with water before drinking.

On the vessel, Dionysus is surrounded by animated maenads (female followers) and intoxicated satyrs (beings that are half human, half animal). An ecstatic dance runs around the entire body of the large amphora. Music, dance, devotion and sexual desire are expressed by the multi-layered scene, which moves around the entire vase without a break.

The painting on the amphora is more colourful than usual at this time. The Kleophrades painter not only used lines of diverse width, but he also painted the animal skins, the metal kantharoi and the blond hair of the light-eyed maenads with diluted clay slurry, which takes on a gold-brown hue. He painted the vine leaves with a purple-red colour. Very thin lines were used for outlining the thyrsos rods, for indicating the muscles of the satyrs and for the fine structure of the under garments. The painter achieved contrasts by leaving out the leaves from the wreath of Dionysus and by applying the small leafy wreaths of his followers in opaque paint.