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Ganymedes (bell krater)

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Ganymedes with a hoop and a cockerel on the bell krater in the Louvre

Ganymedes is a Greek vase painting attributed to the Berlin painter. It dates to about 500 BC. It was painted on a bell krater, now in The Louvre.

Description[edit | edit source]

The painting appears on one side of an Attic red-figure bell krater of clay. It dates to 500-490 BC. The bell krater measures 33 cm in height and 33 cm in diameter.

Bell krater[edit | edit source]

A bell krater was a vessel in which water and wine were mixed at banquets. The Ganymedes krater is lugged, meaning it has very short handles, one on each side of the krater at the opening. The krater does not have a foot so it was probably set on a stand of some sort.

Ganymedes and Zeus[edit | edit source]

Ganymedes was a handsome Trojan prince whom Zeus fancied. On this krater, Ganymedes is depicted as beardless, and his hair is loose and flowing. These are Greek conventions that indicate the subject is a youth. He plays with a hoop and holds a cockerel, the gift of Zeus. These are further indications that Ganymedes is a youth.

On the opposite side of the krater, Zeus is seen wearing a himation and carrying a sceptre. He is depicted hurrying toward Ganymedes along a decorative meander. Zeus (or his eagle) carried Ganymedes to Mt Olympus. The youth served there as Zeus' cupbearer.

Berlin painter[edit | edit source]

The Berlin painter favored the arrangement of figures seen on this krater: one figure standing out against the black surface of the bowl on a band decorated with a meander. The Berlin painter trained with the Attic red-figure Pioneers, who taught him to study the body in movement and represent nudity. He produced a large number of works over his 50-year career.

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