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Arkesilaos Painter



Arkesilaos Painter

( fl c. 565–c. 555 BC). Greek vase painter. A Lakonian Black-figure artist, he is named after a cup from Vulci (Paris, Bib. N., Cab. Médailles, 189) showing King Arkesilaos of Cyrene (probably Arkesilaos II, reg c. 565–560 BC) watching the weighing and packing of a white substance (?silphion), a precious plant used as a medicine which was the monopoly of the kings of Cyrene. The subject of this cup was used by early scholars to support the mistaken view that Lakonian vases were in fact Cyrenean. The career of the Arkesilaos Painter was short and few works by him—most of them cups—have survived. Two of his cups are decorated with mythological scenes: one (Rome, Villa Giulia) shows Herakles Pursuing Two Amazons; the other (Rome, Vatican, Mus. Gregoriano Etrus., 16592) depicts Atlas and the Torture of Prometheus. He also favoured symposium scenes. The Arkesilaos Painter was not a first-rate draughtsman; his style is rather naive and his figures stiff. He does, however, display a liking for narrative and his scenes are lively and expressive. His choice and treatment of subjects make him perhaps the most original of the 6th-century BC Lakonian vase painters.


Kylix, Laconian, Atlas and Prometheus
c555 bc


Heracles fighting the Cretan bull, while a siren perches on a branch. Laconian black-figure kylix in the manner of the Arkesilas Painter,
ca. 550 BC.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York



The Cyrenian king Arkesilas watching over the bundling of wool (Boardman) or the preparation of silphion.
Tondo of a Laconian black-figure cup. From Vulci, Etruria.



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