Attributed to the Berlin Painter
Period: Late Archaic
Date: ca. 490 B.C.
Culture: Greek, Attic
Medium: Terracotta; red-figure
Dimensions: H. 16 5/16 in. (41.50 cm)
Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1956
Accession Number: 56.171.38
This work is a masterpiece of Greek vase-painting because it brings together many features of Athenian culture in an artistic expression of the highest quality. The shape itself is central to the effect. Through the symmetry, scale, and luminously glossy glaze on the obverse, it offers a carefully composed three-dimensional surface that endows the subject with volume. The identity of the singer is given by his instrument, the kithara, which was a type of lyre used in public performances, including recitations of epic poetry. The figure on the reverse is identified by his garb and wand. While the situation is probably a competition, the subject is the music itself. It transports the performer, determines his pose, and causes the cloth below the instrument to sway gently.