I had the pleasure of experiencing the Museum of Fine Arts, with my son, on Saturday December 2, 2017. With school ID in hand we headed for the new Greek Civilization exhibit that had opened just that day.The exhibit was fascinating, it was an unique array of artifacts from greek civilizations daily life.

There were examples of hoplite warfare, various helmets and a shield that was in pretty great condition were on display. There was all sorts of examples  of coinage and seals from various people in time. Displays that showed female wardrobe and items in the beautician category. What particularly interested me the most was the vast amount of red figure pottery, not just in the new exhibit but throughout the Ancient World Exhibit as well. The examples of red figure techniques on pottery covered all aspects of daily living in ancient times, from bathing to winning competitions right down to marking the graves. Several of these beautiful examples of Red Figure Pottery caught my eye.

These magnificent pieces were created by the Archilles Painter and the Pan Painter.The Archilles Painter was an Athenian vase painter. He was active between the dates of 470-425 BCE. He assigned this name by John Beazley through an amphora(two handled jar) that was attributed to him, which had a painting ” Archilles and Briseis” on the exterior. To current date this artwork is on display in the Vatican Museums.

He was a student of the Berlin Painter’s workshop. He was an active artist at the time when Pericles was ruler and his work coincides with characteristics of Parthenon sculptures. The amphora in which he acquired his name dates from 450 BCE. This is among one of the few amazing examples of his vases that have survived from the Classical Period.

It is said that he had painted of 300 art pieces. The specific Archilles Painter artwork I was able to experience was the amphora with Oedipus and the Sphinx of Thebes. It is a ceramic vase standing 33.2 cm and its diameter is 16.7 cm.

This piece has been dated 450-440 BCE and categorized in the Classical Period. The illustration on this amphora roots from the myth of Oedipus and the Sphinx. While traveling to Thebe Oedipus came across a sphinx that was asking a riddle to whom ever passed by and killed those who were unable to answer. Oedipus was able to solve the riddle. The sphinx killed herself and rewarded Oedipus the throne of Thebe.

He saved the city who had just lost their king and unknowingly married his mother. This vase is a unique and beautiful piece of history. The Pan Painter  was an ancient greece vase painter who is assumed to have been active between 480-450 BCE.

He earned his name after a scene was painted of him, the goat god, chasing a young shepherd.  He was first described by a gentleman with the name of John Beazley in 1912. Beazley stated that he was a student of Myson, who taught Mannerists. The Pan Painter differed from this technique by his limited use of ornament and his continuous composition. Pan didnt come into the spotlight until after the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE.

There were many pieces at the Museum of Fine Arts  but this piece particularly interested me. It is the famous bell krater or mixing bowl. This piece was to have been created around 470 BCE. This is made of ceramic and is of red figure techniques. The height is 37cm with a diameter of 42.5 cm. The accession number is 10.

185. This bell krater is two sided and was used as a mixing vesicle for water and wine. The illustration is of Artemis shooting Aktaion with an arrow while the hunting dogs attack. On the other side It is Pan chasing a young shepherd boy in a sun hat.

 It was nice to see this in person after hearing of it in class.  Another piece is the two handled amphora or jar. It is from the early Greek Classical Period being from around the 470 BCE. The accession number is 10.

184. The height is 25.4 cm. This piece is ceramic with red figure technique as well. This is double sides with illustrations of an older man grabbing at a younger boy trying to escape. On the other side the illustration includes a young boy carrying a chunk of meat in his left hand while looking over his shoulder.  Possibly as an offering.

The final red figure piece that I would like to discuss is the Nolan-type amphora or two handled jar with the Trainer and Victorious Athlete. The accession number for this piece is 01.8109. This was in a display case with two other unique vases. It’s height is 30.9 cm and its diameter is 18 cm. It appears to me on the one side I saw of the vase is an illustration of a younger man possibly an athlete holding branches in his hand.

The other person in this illustration appeared to be an older man,bearded, with curved back holding a walking stick. On the other side of this vase which I didn’t see is the illustration of a youth dragging the hide of an animal possibly connected to sacrifice for the gods.It wouldn’t have been a complete and successful visit to the Museum Of Fine Arts if I didn’t visit the big guy, Zeus. He was on display in the Ancient World Exhibit room.

Overall The Head of Zeus appears to be a handsome fellow aside from missing part of his nose. The accession number is 04.12. The overall size is 48×26 cm and consists of marble from Mt.

Pentelikon near Athens. This originally was a life size statue of Zeus either sitting or standing. It is suggested that this represents Zeus ruling with divine confidence. This piece of Zeus is classified as being from the late classical period possibly from 350-340 BCE. It’s truly a shame that only his head survived.

It truly was a pleasure to go to the Museum of Fine Arts, not only to experience first hand what I have been learning in Greek Civilization, but to spend quality time with my son. It was really neat to be able to see the real life art that had been on slides throughout the semester. Overall the knowledge that I have gained this semester has been a true gift. I came to this class in September not knowing anything about Greek Civilization. I didn’t even know you could major in it! Or that they call it Classics, who knew. I’m leaving with an incredible interest to explore more of this mysterious and fascinating time known as the “Classics”.


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