Paul Getty Museum Photo: Williams, Onesimos and the Getty Iliupersis. Greek Vases in the J. Onesimos; cup Iliupersis, exterior showing drapery. Princeton - present American Journal of Archaeology. London ARV J. Attic Red-Figure Vase-Painters 2 nd ed. Oxford, ; reprint N. Caskey and J.
Petersburg Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum A. Griechische Vasenmalerei Munich Hesperia.
Paris, onward Para J. Beazley, Paralipomena. A brief history of vase-painting scholarship, and an examination of current criticism of the methodology of connoisseurship, as exemplified in the work of John. Beazley, will be presented here as a preamble to a new approach to the study of Greek vase-painting. Vase-Painting Scholarship Before In , Nicolas Claude Fabri de Pieresc, a French jurist and avid amateur of antiquities, wrote to his friend and fellow collector Cassiano dal Pozzo concerning the proper method for studying Greek vases. Next, he should compile a glossary of names for different vases and their parts in all the different Italian dialects, and compare them to each other.
He was but one of the many collectors who, in the 17 th, and increasingly in the18 th and 19 th centuries, fuelled interest in the remains of Classical civilizations. Their desire to learn more about the objects in their collections gave rise to the true scholarly study, rather than the mere accumulation, of Classical artifacts. The relationship between vase-painting, myth, and Homeric literature remained the primary focus of interest for scholars well into the 19 th century.
The major part of the cemetery was owned by Napoleon s brother the Principe de Canino, whose workmen had unearthed more than vases in one year of digging. When Eduard Gerhard published Canino s collections between and , 16 he needed a system that was more detailed than the earlier mythographic one in order to organize the mass of material.
Gerhard classified the vases not just by their subject-matter, but also by the quality of line in the drawings and the style and perfection of the slip-glazes. He also recorded all the writing on the vases. Because of the number of vases that he studied, Gerhard was able to distinguish that some were Greek, but others were in a different style, later to be identified as South Italian. Winckelmann had admired the Schatz von Zeichnungen which was available on Greek vases, and considered the possibility of identifying vase-painters by their individual styles.
Perhaps because of this, interest grew in classifying vases by the style of their drawings, and scholars eventually attempted to identify individual painters. In his article, Tonks described the rationale behind his method, Every artist by dint of long practice and the dexterity resulting therefrom, is bound to develop certain idiosyncrasies that will recur again and again in his works. It is for these peculiarities, these personal touches, that a student of ceramics looks today in order to differentiate the works of one artist from those of the same period and one might even say of the same school.
Beazley s Methodology The work of the archaeologist J.
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Beazley realized the promise inherent in the earlier stylistic analyses of vase-painting. Beazley employed a system of analyzing details of the forms of the human body and drapery to identify the works of individual vase-painters. He believed that combinations of two or more forms which consistently appeared together were identifiable characteristics of particular painters.
Since Greek vase-painting is primarily drawing linear, flat, without shading and with color playing only a minor role for Beazley the quality of line was of the utmost importance in determining attribution. For example: The hands fall into a few types which are repeated again and again; and he then describes nine different types of hands which appear in the painter s work. In his article Citharoedus, published in , Beazley attributed a group of vases to a man he called the Berlin Painter. After studying the drawings on each of the vases, he explained the reasoning behind his attribution: It cannot be maintained that the points in which these figures resemble one another or one the rest are trifling, few, or restricted to one part of the figure.
They comprise both the master lines which in archaic art demarcate the several parts of the body and of the drapery, and the minor lines which diversify the area thus demarcated. We may speak, in fact, of a coherent and comprehensive system of reproducing the forms of the human body naked and clothed.
It consists of drawing a conclusion from observations of a great many details: it involves comparing one vase with another, with several others, with all the vases that the inquirer has seen. Enough egrapse [ However obscure he may be, the artist can not escape detection if only sufficiently delicate tests be applied. If the pot bore a potter s epoisen Because of the comparative aspect of his method, Beazley never assigned the name of a painter to a vase that was stylistically unique; being unique, it had no compeers against which to test its stylistic peculiarities.
Without other examples which shared common combinations of forms his systems of renderings , he could not be sure that the painting was the work of a previously unknown painter. He could determine who had not painted it by comparing it with other paintings, but not who had done so. In the absence of other evidence, all ideas about workshop associations among painters of Greek vase must be based primarily on stylistic similarities. Logically, those painters whose styles are most similar were felt to have worked together most closely.
There is solid archaeological evidence for 5 th -century painters working together and sharing their work space at the site of Metaponto in South Italy. Beazley s method of attribution has been attacked on several fronts in recent years. Others have faulted Beazley s use of the connoisseurial method in particular as somehow flawed. Because I intend to compare the preliminary sketches on vases which share the same scenes, and 9. A Short History of Connoisseurship before Beazley Connoisseurship, that is, the discriminating study of stylistic characteristics of works of art, and more specifically the use of these characteristics to identify individual artists, developed in Europe at least as early as the seventeenth century.
Morelli believed that the way painters drew forms was unique to each artist, and in he published his theory as a means to identify the works of Renaissance painters. Further, Morelli proposed that these unconscious ways of drawing could be identified in known works of individual painters, and so could be used to identify undocumented works by these artists.
Morelli s method was adopted by Bernard Berenson, who modified it for his own purposes. These features, Berenson s books on the Italian Painters of the Renaissance appeared between and Berenson was apparently aware of Beazley s work, for in the preface to Three Essays in Method concerning the comparative method used in attributing works by an unknown artist, he wrote that the procedure is one currently and commonly used in classical archaeology, but seldom in the study of Italian painting Although Berenson does not name him, it seems that he may have considered Beazley a precursor, or at least a contemporary, in the use of connoisseurial methods for attribution.
Beazley extended it systematically to Greek vase-painting In Herbert Hoffmann s disapproving words, The cult of attribution Dyfri Williams sees Beazley as the natural successor to these German scholars rather than to Morelli and Berenson: Careful analysis Kleophrades, published in The language is the same and there is the same use of drawings, and, of course, acknowledgement is made to Hartwig.
Williams continues, Since he did not, this must mean that he did not consider either of them to have been the source of his method, perhaps because he felt that his work was not the same as theirs. Beazley s work was different from that of the Renaissance scholars because they were working from certain givens: the existence of a painter called Titian or Raphael, for instance, was never in doubt. Further, there were unimpeachably-documented examples of pictures painted by them.
For Beazley and the other vase-painting scholars no such certainties existed. There were There are a few dozen pots signed so-an-so 52 but whether the signatures indicate that the pots were painted by the signer is still debated. Beazley never took a signature as proof of authorship without attendant stylistic similarity; if a pot signed X did not fit the style he had identified as X s, Beazley excluded it from X s oeuvre.
Vase-painting scholarship was a sort of double-blind test of Beazley s own ability to recognize stylistic details. He began by looking at paintings, analyzing and memorizing their features, comparing them, until he found at least two paintings whose features were more like each other than they were like any others he had seen.
In this way he could gradually reconstruct an individual painter s extant body of work. In a sense he was creating his own artists, as some of his late th century critics have charged, 54 but it was never a case of ex nihil nihil fit. Painted pots do exist, which means that their painters existed. Beazley created painters only in the sense that he gave them names by which they could be recognized by those less-acutely sensitive to visual detail than he was. As the psychologist Elliot Eisner wrote about names as mnemonic Further proof of Beazley s ability lies in the frontispiece of his Campana Fragments in Florence.
Beazley examined them separately at their different institutions, and even though some of the fragments were very tiny, recognized that they were all from one vessel, a cup by the painter, Oltos. That there was a certain circularity to Beazley s method cannot be denied one can never be absolutely sure what the real style of a painter is except by examining the pots which Beazley has assigned to that painter.
There is no system of external checks such as those which existed for Berenson, allowing him to compare a purported Leonardo with The Virgin of the Rocks, for example. This absence can lead to uncertainty, which Beazley recognized, about where the dividing line between closely-related styles should be drawn 58 not unlike the debate about whether some Titians are really by Giorgione, or vice versa.
It is also important to acknowledge that Beazley s method was subjective, the attributions those of one person, albeit one with a superbly trained eye and Employed by those with less skill, the method is not infallible - Beazley himself wrote, I neither expect that all my attributions will be unhesitatingly accepted, nor wish that they should be. James Whitley dismisses the whole concept of style as It is a modern Western expectation that works of art be distinguished by, and indeed that they owe their status of art to, the trace of an artistic personality.
It was a pastime of the Mughals of northern India in the 17 th century, when the Emperor Jahangir boasted of his ability to distinguish the works of particular painters by their style. He contends that all different According to Neer s hypothesis, vase-painters changed their styles consciously as a means to differentiate their work from that of other painters working at the same time. The sheer number of different painting styles makes Neer s argument unlikely. Other scholars have faulted the use of connoisseurship as a primary research method because they believe it is unworkable.
One of the main objections of this group was stated succinctly by the art historian Gary Schwartz Yet the ability of persons with Why the ability to recognize visual nuances should be different is not dealt with by critics such as Whitley and Schwartz.
Athenian Potters and Painters
Validation of Connoisseurship as a Methodology There have been studies in many different disciplines which show that it is indeed possible to detect individual styles visually, and even to quantify the criteria by which an individual s style can be determined. It is accepted than an individual s handwriting can not be disguised so as to be undetectable 71 - this is the idea behind the modern concept of checking accounts, for example. By analogy, since individual drawing styles are based on physical movements similar to those that govern handwriting, one would suspect that they should be equally unique and recognizable.
Graphologists use measurements of angles, slope and letter-forms to identify handwriting. Anthropologists and physiologists use similar systems of measurements to define how individuals motor skills differ when they perform repetitive tasks such as those involved in drawing and painting. The anthropological archaeologist James Hill made extensive studies in the differences in performance between individuals using the same fine motor skills in tasks that included both handwriting and pot-painting.
First, handwriting is largely subconscious, such that the essential motor-performance characteristics of a person cannot be taught to others. In fact, a person s hand-writing cannot even be copied accurately, regardless of whether or not tracings or other techniques are used.
Red-Figure Pottery in Greek Art
What is more, a person cannot even consciously alter or disguise his own handwriting to the degree that it would not be recognizable as his, even if he uses the other hand I believe these things are equally true of the motor performance exhibited in pottery painting, or anything else for that matter. Further, he was able to assign unknown works correctly to both known and unknown individuals whose other works he had studied.
I thus conclude that the approach is applicable cross-culturally and is not limited by spacetime boundaries. It should work with any data exhibiting style variability, so long as the data meet the requirements set forth.
Hill s findings are confirmed by more recent studies that tested the same questions, whether an individual s handwriting, and the attendant motor-movements that control it, are not only unique, but also sufficiently different that they can be distinguished reliably.
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