an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me

Mourning Sarpedon: Italy’s Three Consolation Loans Don’t Console

“Equivalent beauty and importance”?

That’s what the Met’s agreement with Italy calls for, but I’m not sure that’s what it got in exchange for its masterpiece by Euphronios.

I posted photos of two of the three loans that just arrived from Italy here. Below is third one—a bell-krater from the Paestum region of southern Italy, 3rd quarter of the 4th century B.C., attributed to the painter Python—which I inexpertly photographed when I visited the galleries yesterday, the first day that the Italian loans were displayed:
MetItalSph.jpg
The specialists may say I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the beauty, monumentality and grave profundity of Euphronios’ depiction of the death of Sarpedon on the obverse and of Athenian youths arming on the reverse far outweigh the cheerful pieces that we got in return.

The Oltos kylix, the object closest in kind to the Euphronios, sports a label that tries to hearten us with the news that that we got a trifecta:

Kylikes tended to depict some combination of Dionysos, the god of wine; a scene from the daily life of an Athenian citizen, such as going to war; and a mythological subject. This exceptionally large and elaborate work shows all three.

The warrior inhabits the cup’s interior, which you will not see unless you are very thin and can squeeze behind the case:
MetItalWal.jpg

My camera could easily slip behind there, however, so here he is:
MetItalWar.jpg

Whatever this cup may lack in gravity, it makes up for in depravity:
MetItalR.jpg
The Met has made much of the fact that Italy only had to send us one piece, but graciously threw in two more. I think they may have been trying to compensate us in quantity for what we gave up in quality.
In the case-of-honor, on the spot where the Euphronios previously held court, is the mug-on-a-jug that I reproduced in the prior post. But the Met already owns a jug with TWO smiling mugs:
Met2faced.jpg
The Met has dispersed these three loans in three different galleries and has made no big deal about their arrival. I suppose that’s because it made this deal reluctantly and feels there’s not much to celebrate.

In any event, at least we now know what the “accessories” are for the “fleecy suit” of the satyr on the bell-krater (top): He wears a fawn skin, boots and a headband.
Sounds like me, leaving to play indoor tennis in January!

an ArtsJournal blog