The Affecter (attributed to) (Greek, 6th century B.C.),
Attic Black-Figure Hydria
, ca. 530 B.C.
terra cotta, 17 ½ in.; 44.45 cm high
Museum purchase, 1953.255
The study of Greek pottery provides visual information to correct and supplement that derived from the writings of ancient poets, historians, and public record keepers. Vases contribute much to our knowledge about ancient Greek culture, including aspects of daily life and, of course, aesthetic standards. Although some remaining examples of Greek pottery were intended to impress and endure as "monumental art," most pots were made for use in daily life to fulfill domestic needs. The term "hydria" comes from the Greek word hudor, or water, and suggests that this piece was used to hold and carry water.
Although most vase painters and potters were regarded as craftsmen in their day, a select few are now considered artists, because of the exceptional nature of their work. Joslyn's Attic Black-Figure Hydria was decorated by one such artisan in the sixth century B.C. The Affecter painted over one hundred known pieces; only two others are hydrias. This example is extremely rare in terms of its shape and decorative scheme, both of which are old-fashioned for the period in which the painter worked. The low pouring handle and broad neck, as well as the rounded shoulder, differ from most contemporary pots, and the extension of the decorative shoulder panel beyond the main panel is unusual. As his name suggests, the painter is an affected, or self-consciously stylized, artist. Part of a group termed Mannerist, these artists purposefully harkened back to an earlier period when black-figure style (figures in black with the background left a reddish brown color) was popular. The Affecter's attention to intricate and varied detail is apparent in the added color and lively, angular juxtaposition of the shoulder panel images, as well as in the elaborate treatment of the horses and larger figures on the main panel.