The Red and the Black: Studies in Greek Pottery
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Figure V: 6 is another example: Odysseus and the Sirens on an Athenian stamnos made c.
You must row past there; and knead sweet wax and stop up the ears of all your crew, so that none of the others may hear the song. If you implore your crew and beg them to untie you, then they must bind you fast with more bonds again. But there is much that is not in Homer or other literature, and conversely much in literature that makes no appearance, and can make no appearance, in art, For Odysseus and the Sirens in art, see Touchefeu-Meynier ; Bmmmer —3; 33—8; Scheiold 96; —3; ; ; —5, —9; Buitron et ai.
Odysseus nos. It is inevitable that students of Greek imagery in pottery will bring their Prior knowledge of Greek myth to the task of interpretation. However, the distinction between visual images on pottery or of course on other media: we must not forget that there is a great range of other media that carried similar, though not precisely identical, visual images and the literary versions has recently been emphasised.
Images are not dependent on texts; there are two grids of evidence. What is worse, there is a danger that the very existence of a literary version will beguile us into linking the images with that particular version Shapiro There is often no direct link that we can establish; there was not one extant version only that shared the same story with the images. Indeed, the visual images are now felt to be separate from texts and mainly based on the tales that were handed down orally, even during the literate periods. We must beware of assuming that painters, even if they could read, had access to written texts; in fact, the concept of a written text is anachronistic for our peribd.
The dramatic versions tended to be sophisticated and innovative remodellings of the old legends, and it is doubtful how far painters would follow these novel treatments Green b. As we saw with details of the Siren picture, there are elements which we know only through later literary versions that have survived.
Sometimes none of the story is known to us in literary form until long after it has appeared in a visual version. One example is the story of Talos, the bronze giant of Crete Gantz —5. However, we have detailed images of the episode, years earlier, dated to around BC Robertson Iason and Talos , the Dioskouroi, Castor and Pollux, hold the falling giant who is painted with silver to indicate his metal form. There are also a number of instances where there is a total lack of any written evidence early or late for a story. Let us remain with the Argonauts — this time Jason is the centre of attention.
On the tondo of an Athenian cup of c. Walton, Marc et al. Artal-Isbrand, P. Vandiver et al. MRS Proceedings Papadopoulos, J. Kahn, L.
Newman, R. A review of scientific research on the iron in Attic Greek glazes. Noble, J. Walton, M. Boyle, Rebecca. Gulmini, M. Koens, H. Docter and E. Moormann, Amsterdam: Allard Pierson Museum. McPhee, I. Mirti, P. Beazley, J. Attic Red-Figure Vase Painters. Oxford: Clarendon.
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Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rouet, P. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Villanueva Puig, M. Lissarrague, F. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Neer, R. Style and Politics in Athenian Vase-Painting. The Craft of Democracy ca. Rasmussen, T. Spivey, eds. Looking at Greek Vases. Rutter, N. Word and Image in Ancient Greece. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Snodgrass, A. Sparkes, B. The largest influx of classical objects into the collection was through his donations, between and The ISHC catalogue card has very little information about the various venues in which this hydria has been displayed.
According to Esmyol, the hydria now functions mostly as an object to be studied and exhibited by university scholars. All the displayed objects are exhibited in wooden cabinets. The inclusion of this hydria, with other objects bought, stolen and found as a result of colonial rule and apartheid, is important, as it tells us about the interrelationship between the varied static objects on display, all tasked with speaking to our heritage.
These objects all come from various national museum collections, each with a distinct collection history and objective. The civilisation of ancient Greece is one of the earliest and biggest colonial empires. By the 5 th century B.
Each polis was governed by a constitution, currency, dialect and laws. Greek language, literature, history, cultural costumes, norms and beliefs spread to Rome and lands as far away as North Africa, the former Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. Most poleis adopted Greek culture as a central feature of education, culture and governance, and the various poleis fought amongst each other for dominance.
By the late 8 th century B. This relationship led the wealthy benefactor to adopt a paternalistic attitude towards the museum, but in , John Paris, from the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, was appointed director. Exhibiting signs of megalomania, de Pass wrote to Paris,. This Gallery was built … to house my pictures together with the pictures then housed in a backroom at the Museum … and I was allotted three rooms for pictures, watercolours, and drawings, etchings and engravings … etc … I was allowed to hang the pictures and have done so on and off up to the time of your arrival.
Workshop for Archaeometry and 3D Documentation of Ancient Greek Pottery
By , de Pass had bequeathed the museum over two hundred and forty paintings, relics, drawings, prints and sculptural works, including this red hydria. Cultural imperialism in the fields of sociology, art history, curating and anthropology, amongst others, prioritised Eurocentric cultural relics, artworks, customs, languages, norms, values, ethics and beliefs.
This supported and fuelled colonial and apartheid social, cultural and political dominance. The museum further mitigated resistance by the colonised by cataloguing incorrectly and deliberately eradicating objects that did not support colonialism and, subsequently, apartheid. In post-colonial, post-apartheid South Africa, cultural imperialism is slowly ending.
This has inevitably led to an extensive rethinking and reordering of hierarchies within museums throughout the country. So how is this vessel relevant to a South African museum-goer? As we move towards a contemporary postcolonial museum, we need to consider what such objects can tell us about South African heritage, and how we value its various aspects today.
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Although they are not connected to the cultural life of the majority of people in the country, objects like the red hydria tell us not only about the power and beauty of the Greek empire, but also about the Eurocentric collecting practices of South African museums and the international valuations that influence what we value and, in turn, collect and conserve through our museums. The question of what it can tell us about South African heritage remains to be seen.
In the same fashion as museum collection practices, this essay itself perpetuates a familiar privileging of knowledge discourse — reproducing debate around the same objects, but through the lens of reimaging, restricting and reimagining, shifting the center from classics to popular contemporary discourse, as a means to justify the continual preservation, privileging and conservation of the same old relics.
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