Ceramic arts in
The kantharos was a drinking vessel. It was associated with Dionysos, the god of wine and grape cultivation (referred to as Bacchus in Roman mythology). Dionysos supposedly always carried around a kantharos and it was never empty. The association with Dionysos makes the decoration of this kantharos very relevant: the exuberant satyrs were constant companions of Dionysos. The use of satyr decoration on these drinking vessels was particularly popular in the Greek colonies in Anatolia, one of the distant lands Dionysos was thought to have visited when he was a young adult. The high, looping handles of the cup – a traditional feature of the kantharos – form the pointed ears associated with the satyr’s physical make up.
Technically this cup is painted in one of the two chief styles: black-figure. This is the technique of depicting a figure (or face in this case) in black on the red ground of the vessel. The other style, red-figure, depicted figures in red on a painted black background. Despite the somewhat creepy features of the satyr, the form is elegant and symmetrical, especially in the graceful, looping handles.
Featured Collection: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston