Attic Red-Figured Kylix

Object Details

Title:

Attic Red-Figured Kylix

Artist/Maker(s):

Attributed to Brygos Painter (Greek (Attic), active about 490 - 470 B.C.)

Culture:

Greek (Attic)

Place(s):

Athens, Greece (Place created)

Date:

about 490 B.C.

Medium:

Terracotta

Dimensions:

11.2 x 31.4 cm (4 7/16 x 12 3/8 in.)

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He must not be seen! I will cover his body, I will wrap him completely in my mantle. No one who loved him could bear to see the dark blood pouring from his nostrils and the raw wound in his breast.

So declared Tekmessa when she discovered the body of her dead lover Ajax in an Athenian tragedy by the playwright Sophokles. Ajax was one of the greatest of the Greek heroes in the Trojan War. The matter of his suicide was recounted in epic poetry now lost to us, but Athenian vase-painters in the early 400s B.C. frequently drew on this tradition in showing his death.

The interior of this red-figure cup attributed to the Brygos Painter shows Ajax impaled on his sword and Tekmessa running to cover the body. In a unique representation of the suicide, the sword enters through his back rather than the more natural position through the stomach. Beneath Ajax, the Brygos Painter attempted to convey the texture of the pebble beach where Ajax went to die.

The exterior of the cup presents the events leading to Ajax's suicide. When Achilles was killed, Ajax saved his body from the Trojans, expecting to be rewarded with Achilles' armor. However, Odysseus also claimed the armor. One side of this cup shows the two heroes quarreling; on the other side, the Greek leaders cast votes in the form of stones piled in front of the opponents. The despondent Ajax clutches his bowed head, having lost by one vote.

Related Works
Provenance
by 1969 - 1986

Walter Bareiss, American, born Germany, 1919 - 2007

- 1986

and Molly Bareiss, American, 1920 - 2006 (Stamford, Connecticut), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986.

Exhibitions
Poets and Heroes (November 4, 1986 to February 28, 1987)
  • Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, (Atlanta), November 4, 1986 to February 28, 1987
Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004
Bibliography

Bothmer, Dietrich von. "Aspects of a Collection," Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27, June 1969. pp. 424-436. p. 427; fig. 11.

Bothmer, Dietrich von, and J. Bean. Greek Vases and Modern Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bareiss. Exh. checklist, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: 1969. p. 7, no. 87.

Beazley, J. D. Paralipomena. Additions to Attic Black-figure Vase-painters and to Attic Red-figure Vase-painters. 2nd ed. Oxford: 1971. p. 367, no. 1 bis.

Davies, Mark I. "Ajax and Tekmessa. A Cup by the Brygos Painter in the Bareiss Collection," Antike Kunst 16, 1 (1973), pp. 60-70. pls. 9.1, and 10.

Shefton, Brian. "Agamemnon or Ajax," Revue Archeologique 24 (1973), pp. 203-218. fig. 1.

Boardman, John. Athenian Red Figure Vases: The Archaic Period. London: 1975. fig. 246.

Williams, Dyfri. "Ajax, Odysseus, and the Arms of Achilles," Antike Kunst 23 (1980), pp. 137-145. p. 137, n. 5; pls. 33, 7 and 36.1-2.

Touchefeu, Odette. "Aias I," Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (1981), pp. 312-336. pp. 325, no. 72, and 332, no. 140 (as L.69-11.35).

True, Marion, and Jiri Frel. Greek Vases. Molly and Walter Bareiss Collection. The J. Paul Getty Museum. Malibu: 1983. pp. 44-45, no. 30, figs. 30a-c; p. 79, no. 152.

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March, Jenny. Cassell Dictionary of Classical Mythology. London: 1998. p. 368, s.v. Tecmessa; fig. 136.

Moore, Mary B. Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. The J. Paul Getty Museum 8 (USA 33). Malibu: 1998. pp. 33-35, no. 49; fig. 13; pls. 418-420.

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Hedreen, Guy. Capturing Troy: The Narrative Functions of Landscape in Archaic and Early Classical Greek Art. Ann Arbor: 2001. fig. 28, pp. 104-5, 107-8, 110-11, 115, 117, n. 92, 143, nn. 73,74, 178, 221, 224, 234.

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Neils, Jennifer. "The 'Unheroic' Corpse: Re-reading the Sarpedon Krater". In Athenian Potters and Painters, vol. 2. John H. Oakley and Olga Palagia, eds. (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2009) 212-219 p. 215, fig.6.

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