Director Emeritus Grant Holcomb speaks about this object.
Within these vessels, the ancient Greeks mixed their wine with water. Outside, they painted images of the horse and chariot, one of their favorite motifs in art and one symbolizing the military prowess of their warrior culture.
Stylistically, these vessels typify Mycenaean vase painting. That is, the forms are elongated, flat, and disproportionate. Typical also are the stylized flowers and the painting of two horses, two tails, two heads, two large eyes-and yet one body.
To some critics, the painting itself is imprecise, even slipshod. Yet the glory of these works may not be their artistic sophistication but rather the fact that, as survivors of the first civilization on the Greek mainland, they coax and excite our imagination. Mycenae was the beginning of the European cultural tradition and once ruled by the legendary King Agamemnon who led the legendary raid on ancient Troy.
Indeed, the Gallery vessels were created around 1250 B.C., the time of Agamemnon, Achilles, Odysseus, Penelope, Paris and Helen of Troy. The horses pulling soldiers ready for battle in their chariots may even remind us of the fall of Troy, a tale celebrated by Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey, the acknowledged foundation masterpieces of Western literature.
A sense of time, of history, of literature and the profound impact of the ancient world on western culture are part of the overall experience of these two seemingly humble vessels.
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