Greece, Athens, ca. early 5th century BCE. A fabulous lekythos attributed to the Haimon Group, featuring an action-packed depiction of Herakles wrestling the Nemean lion created via the black figure technique with incised details as well. Displaying immense physical strength and courage, Herakles' adventures in the Greco-Roman world were narrated in the canonical Twelve Labors, the first occurring when King Eurystheus asked Herakles to bring him the skin of a fierce lion that terrorized the hillside around Nemea - a seemingly impossible task. Despite the fact that initially Herakles' arrows were utterly useless against this threatening beast, our hero ultimately succeeded, clutching the lion in his muscular arms all the while strategically avoiding its claws, finally choking the wild feline to death. Size: 7.75" H (19.7 cm)
This vessel has been attributed to the Haimon Group because of the resemblance of its style of drawing to that of the Haimon Painter, an anonymous painter named by C.H.E. Haspels and John Beazley on account of a recurring subject depicted on his black-figure vases - the Sphinx and his victim Haimon. The Haimon Painter was an Athenian vase painter (ca. 490 BCE - 460 BCE) whose true name is unknown; however, certain characteristics of his style have led scholars to identify his unique approach. He was a prolific black-figure vase painter who specialized in painting scenes on lekythoi during a period when red-figure vase painters were first emerging. According to the British Museum, "Beazley called him the Haimon Painter following Haspels ABL, who first assembled the work of the painter on the basis of style and named the painter after the subject of the Sphinx with her victim that he painted four times. Haimon, the son of Creon (q.v.), was the last and fairest victim of the Sphinx."
To see a vessel painted in a similar manner, see this lekythos (accession number 57.12.13) in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Provenance: ex-private New York, New York collection; acquired from N. Koutoulakis, Geneva, Switzerland in 1988
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