The J. Paul Getty Museum’s extensive collection of Greek painted pottery is especially rich in Athenian black- and red-figure vases of the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. Examples of two of the most distinctive and popular shapes of that period, column-kraters and volute-kraters, are gathered in this fascicule of the Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, the tenth of the series devoted to the holdings of the J. Paul Getty Museum. These are large vessels, made for mixing wine and water at the symposium. The column-krater—called the “Corinthian krater” in antiquity—takes its modern name from the columnar supports at the rim. It was developed in Corinth by the end of the seventh century B.C. and soon adopted also by potters in Athens, where the shape is one of the most enduring. Volute-kraters are, in the words of Sir John Beazley, “the vase-shape which has more of the temple in it than any other.” Typically large, with high curling handles, these vases are often finely potted and present expansive fields for decoration. As with many pottery vessel shapes, the form also occurs in metal, and the Getty’s dinoid krater (87.AE.93; entry no. 24) offers a striking example of ceramicists emulating and elaborating upon that costlier medium.

Most Athenian red-figure vase-painters seem to have specialized as either cup or pot painters, and the selection of vases and fragments gathered here has been attributed to many significant artists of the fifth century B.C., including Myson, the Pan Painter, the Kleophrades Painter, and Polygnotos. Iconographically, the kraters present a rich and engaging array of motifs and details. Notable is the recurrence of scenes of worship before altars and herms, images of devotion that would have been a central component of the lived experience of ancient Athenians. Besides these scenes of human activity, myths and heroic exploits continued to offer inspiration. Though fragmentary, the elaborate sack of Troy on Polygnotos’s volute-krater (79.AE.198; entry no. 23) demonstrates the ongoing interest in this subject, while the Kleophrades Painter’s krater (77.AE.11; entry no. 19) presents a mythological tour de force, with Peleus battling Thetis, three of Herakles’s Labors, and an extended Amazonomachy.

This catalogue marks a renewed commitment to publishing the Getty’s vase collection within the CVA, as the locus classicus of the field. It also marks a major shift forward, for this fascicule has been developed as an open-access digital publication with the option of print on demand. In publishing digitally, we maintain all of the respected and admired features of the CVA, now enhanced with the rich flexibility of free online access. We hope that this provides a model for future catalogues, and we are especially grateful to the American CVA Committee for supporting this initiative.

The volume has been many years in the making, and I congratulate its author, Despoina Tsiafakis, for bringing it to fruition. The project has had the ongoing support of the Getty’s Department of Antiquities, beginning with Marion True’s invitation and thereafter shepherded by David Saunders, Jens Daehner, and Kenneth Lapatin. The Department of Antiquities Conservation, particularly Jeffrey Maish, provided essential documentation, analysis, and conservation work. The vases have been newly photographed by Tahnee Cracchiola and Rebecca Truszkowski, and Toby Schreiber prepared the profile drawings. Sharon Herson copyedited the manuscript and Juliana Froggatt provided careful proofreading. Greg Albers, Rachel Barth, Michelle Woo Deemer, Kara Kirk, Ruth Evans Lane, Karen Levine, and Laura diZerega have been instrumental in developing the publication.