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Amphora with Nike and Youth

Artist
attributed to the Berlin Painter, active 500–460 BC
Artist Culture
Attic Greek
Period
Classical period, 480–323 BC
Date
490–460 BC
Material
Red-figure ceramic
Associated with
Athens, Attica, Greece, Europe
Classification
Ceramics, containers
Current Location
On View, Gallery 259
Dimensions
14 3/8 x 8 1/4 x 8 in. (36.5 x 21 x 20.3 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
Rights
Public Domain
Object Number
57:1955
NOTES
The spotlight technique—the use of a single figure featured on either side of a vessel—takes advantage of the round form of this amphora. The viewer must look at both sides to understand the full story. Here, the goddess Nike, or Victory, flies through the air presenting a musical instrument called a "cithara" (a type of fancy, large concert lyre) to present to the young man standing on the other side. Taken together we can interpret this scene as a celebration of the youth’s victory at a musical competition. The spotlight technique was favored by this artist, called the Berlin Painter after the city in which his style was first identified. The Berlin Painter represents a high point of ancient painting due to the precise draftsmanship and fine attention to detail especially, in the ears and eyelashes.
by 1775 -
Rome, Italy [1]

by 1932 -
Dr. Ludwig Pollak (1868-1943), Rome, Italy [2]

by 1954 - 1955
Dr. Elie Borowski, Toronto, Canada [3]

1955 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Dr. Elie Borowski [4]


Notes:
[1] Giovanni Battista Passeri saw the amphora in Rome and published it in 1775 as part of the Vatican collection [Passeri, Giovanni Battista. "Picturae Etruscorum in Vasculis." Rome, 1767-1775, II, pl.101]. However, according to a letter from scholar J. D. Beazley, Passeri's Vatican attribution may have been in error: "[Passeri's] locations are not always accurate" [letter dated April 21, 1954, to the Saint Louis Art Museum on behalf of Dr. Elie Borowski, SLAM document files].

[2] Ludwig Pollak was an archeologist, expert, and collector. In J. D. Beazley's 1954 letter, he noted that the amphora was in Pollak's possession in Rome, "before this war" (see note [1]). According to Pollak's diary, Beazley visited him and viewed his antique vases on April 7, 1932, so Pollak owned the Museum's amphora at that time [Guldan, Margarete Merkel. "Die Tagenbucher von Ludwig Pollak: Kennerschaft und Kunsthandel Rom, 1893-1934." Vienna: Verlag der Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1988, p. 221, 375]. It is not known when the amphora left Pollak's possession, but a significant portion of Pollak's collection survived him, intact.

In 1943, Pollak, who was Jewish, and members of his immediate family were deported to a concentration camp; none survived. Starting in 1938, Pollak himself had dispersed much of his collection, through sales and secure deposits; even so, after his deportation, there were still many art objects located at his Roman residence, Palazzo Odescalchi [Cagiano de Azevedo, Elena. "Ludovico Pollak e il Museo Barracco: la Donazione Nicod al Comune di Roma." "Bolletino dei Musei Comunali di Roma" XV(2001): 117]. Additionally, after his deportation, Pollak's friends saved his library, removing the books from his home and depositing them with the Museo Barracco, Rome, with which Pollak was closely associated; Pollak's friends may have been able to save other things as well since a number of objects from his collection were found to be in the Museo Barracco after the war [Cagiano de Azevedo, 125]. After Pollak's death, his surviving heir was able to obtain control over his collection. In the 1950s, Pollak's sister-in-law, Margarethe Süssmann Nicod, established her position as legal heir to Pollak's collection and library, and proceeded to donate a significant portion of that collection (and, it seems, the entirety of his library) to the City of Rome [Cagiano de Azevedo, p. 120-121].

[3] Correspondence between Borowski and the Museum regarding the amphora began in 1954, and the bill of sale is dated March 31, 1955 [SLAM document files]. Borowski became a dealer in the 1950s after working at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto [letter from Dietrich von Bothmer, 2003 or 2004, SLAM document files].

[4] Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, February 3, 1955.
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