1961 - 1983
1983 - 1986
Mary S. Bareiss 1983 Trust, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986.
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Attic Black-Figure Neck Amphora
Attributed to Leagros Group (Greek (Attic), active 525 - 500 B.C.)
Athens, Greece (Place Created)
about 510 B.C.
30.4 × 45.3 cm (11 15/16 × 17 13/16 in.)
Two warriors sit playing a board game, while the goddess Athena stands in front of the board and gestures. The warriors have their armor and weapons ready, as if just pausing during a break in the conflict. Based on similar scenes with inscriptions, the two warriors can be identified as Ajax and Achilles, the leading men in the Greek army. This scene was very popular in Athenian vase-painting of the late 500s B.C. and was a favorite of the painters in the Leagros Group. Some scholars believe that this mythological scene also served as a contemporary political parable on the value of staying alert, since the tyrant Peisistratos had been able to take control of the city of Athens while the army was distracted. The back of the vase depicts three hoplites, or warriors, in a line. Such files of hoplites are rather unusual in vase-painting, and this depiction may have been meant to relate to the scene on the front of the vase. These hoplites may be Greeks on the march to counter a Trojan attack, while Ajax and Achilles are notified by Athena. Such an interpretation would explain Athena's unusually prominent position on this rendition of the scene.
May, Helmut, ed. Weltkunst aus Privatbesitz, exh. cat. (Cologne: Druckerei J. P. Bachem, 1968), cat. no. A 24.
Bothmer, Dietrich von, and J. Bean. Greek Vases and Modern Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bareiss. Exh. checklist. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969), p. 2, no. 19.
Brommer, Frank. Vasenlisten zur griechischen Heldensage. 3rd ed. (Marburg: N. G. Elwert Verlag, 1973), p. 335, no. 23.
Woodford, Susan. "Ajax and Achilles Playing a Game on an Olpe in Oxford." Journal of Hellenic Studies 102 (1982), pp. 173-185, p. 182, no. D 5 bis.
J.C. McKeown. Grece, un cabinet de curiosities, Contes etranges et faits surprenants du berceau de la civilisation occidentale. (Paris: Editions Bibliomane, 2014), p. 203.