Phiale Painter 'Hermes' white lekythos
Images: Enrico Arias, trans B. Shefton. A history of 1000 years of Greek vase painting.
Museum: Munich, Museum antiker Kleinkunst
Size: 37cm. (white-ground lekythos with inner compartment for a token amount of oil)
Function: funerary (found in a grave at Oropos, near the Attic/Boeotian border)
Technique: white-ground with glaze and matt outlines and added colours
Subject/s: the messenger god Hermes, bearded but youthful, sits on the rocky shores of the river Styx. He wears his travelling hat and cloak, but is bare foot. Holding his caduceus in his left hand, he beckons with his right to a woman who wears a heavy mantle over a lighter chiton and adjusts a 'crown' on her head. She stands on the ground, already enveloped by the rocks. In the background, behind the rocks, a shaft-like tomb on a stepped base has been decked with ribbons.
Date: later mid 5th c.
Analysis: shape, technique, fine draughtsmanship and distinctive patterns show the Phiale Painter taking the Achilles Painter's tradition into the second half of the 5th c, a time of war, plague, and death. The visual image recalls Euripides's Alcestis produced in 438.