Neck–amphora, Archaic, ca. 540–530 b.c.; black–figure
Attributed to a painter of the Princeton Group
Terracotta; H. 13 in. (33 cm)
The Bothmer Purchase Fund, 2010 (2010.147)
Greek vases are not usually known for their individuality. Among the works made in Athens during the sixth century B.C. in the black-figure technique, this one is exceptional for its shape: the broad body tapers rapidly to the base, which was never provided with a foot. Noteworthy also is the allocation of the subject matter to opposite sides of the body, a feature more common on later red-figure vases. The front shows Herakles, foremost among ancient Greek heroes, wearing his lion skin and drawing his bow against Geryon, depicted on the back. Consisting of three fully-armed bodies, Geryon lived to the far west on an island in the stream of Ocean. He owned a large herd of cattle that Herakles went to capture. Herakles has wounded one of Geryon's bodies, shown falling to the right, and will presently dispatch the others. On each side of the neck appears a procession of men and youths led by a flute player. Long attributed to the circle of artists around the painter Exekias, since its acquisition by the Museum the neck-amphora has been associated with the Princeton Painter, an inventive artist of the third quarter of the sixth century B.C.