Variation among Attic fine wares: the case of the Pan Painter's pelikai
Smith, A. C. (2014) Variation among Attic fine wares: the case of the Pan Painter's pelikai. In: Kotsonas, A. (ed.) Understanding Standardization and Variation in Mediterranean Ceramics: Mid 2nd to Late 1st Millenium BC. BABESCH Supplement (25). Peeters Publishers, pp. 99-113. ISBN 9789042930919
Full text not archived in this repository.
This paper is a case study of the continuum between standardization and variation in the production of red-figure Athenian fine wares in the first half of the 5th century BC. An investigation of the Pan Painter's pelikai reveals that they fall into 3 distinct groups, according to size. While the pelikai in each group are also distinguishable from each other by shape, pattern, and iconography, the next clearest distinction between the groups (after size) is in their style of decoration. The pelikai in the largest group, which is comprised of small pelikai, are particularly distinct from the Pan Painter's broader oeuvre of ca. 220 vases insofar as they exemplify a lackadaisical painting style, which I have termed banausic, on account of its frequent use for images of craftsmen, women at work, and other such genre images. While this casual style is antithetical to the Pain Painter's refined style, for which he is better known, and which he employs for his large pelikai, affinities between the 2 styles—as judged by his confident line, anatomical details, and other technical features—permit the conclusion that this group of pelikai were executed by one and the same craftsman as the others. As with all of the vases attributed to this talented painter, however, the pelikai—whether large or small—are decorated with a great bariety of images. While most painted Athenian vases are understood to have been individually created, not mass-produced, the Pan Painter's coherent group of small pelikai seem to have been created en masse, in a uniform size and shape and with a distinct decorative style. This group of standardized vases represents a body of work executed under the influence or at the behest of a specific vase workshop. The form of the small pelikai in fact allows us to associate them with the Geras Painter. With his work on these small pelikai, perhaps in the latter part of his career, the Pan Painter may have intentionally minimized variability in favour of standardization, to meet market demands.