Kylix attributed to the Kiss Painter

By
Ross Brendle
Ross Brendle is a Ph.D. candidate in Classical Archaeology, focusing on ancient Greek art and in particular Attic vase-painting. His dissertation examines the specialized uses of Attic black-figure pottery after the introduction of the red-figure technique. In the fall, he will be the Samuel H. Kress Fellow at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

  • Accession Number: JHUAM B5
  • Measurements: Height: 10 cm, Diameter: 31 cm
  • Material: Ceramic
  • Date/Culture: Greek, ca. 500 BCE
  • Provenance: The Baltimore Chapter of the Archaeological Institute of America

The scene in the tondo of this Attic red-figure cup is set in a Greek gymnasium, indicated by the sponge and aryballos hanging at the rear, and the pick-like tool on the ground, used for leveling sand in the long-jump pit.

Since the boy stands on a platform, some scholars have read the figure as a statue on its base, while others see him as a victorious athlete on a podium.  An earlier theory connected this image with a statue base found in the Athenian Agora dedicated to the Twelve Gods by a man named Leagros.  Whether the figure is a statue of an athletic victor or a living youth crowned by a wreath, the man at left, with his eroticizing gaze, clearly sees the nude boy as an object of desire.  He takes on the role of the erastēs , the elder partner in an ancient Greek pederastic relationship, making the boy or statue his erōmenos .  The inscription on the interior (ΛΕΑΓΡΟΣ ΚΑΛΟΣ, “Leagros is beautiful”) echoes the man’s admiration.