New York|13 October 2020
LOT42 –SOLD TO BENEFIT THE CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART
AN ATTIC RED-FIGURED KYLIX
ATTRIBUTED TO MAKRON AS PAINTER, SIGNED BY HIERON AS POTTER, CIRCA 490-480 B.C.
USD 1,200,000 – USD 1,800,000
Christie’s Magazine speculates that this one may set a new record price for a Greek vase.
This Attic red-figured kylix â€” attributed to the painter Makron and of â€˜outstanding provenanceâ€™ â€” could be about to eclipse a landmark figure set 20 years ago, says Harry Seymour
The year 490 BC was a memorable one for the people of Athens: 10,000 of the cityâ€™s soldiers crushed the much larger Persian army of Darius the Great; work commenced on the first Temple of Athena Parthenos on the Acropolis; and the modern marathon was born when a messenger with good news supposedly ran 26 miles to the city before dropping dead.
It is also thought to be the year in which an artist known as Makron began his decade-long career painting ceramics in the Kerameikos â€” the pottersâ€™ quarter â€” in Athens.
â€˜He soon established himself as one of the best painters of his generation,â€™ says G. Max Bernheimer, international head of Antiquities at Christieâ€™s. â€˜And this Attic red-figured wine cup â€” offered on 13 October at Christieâ€™s in New York â€” is the best example by the fabled artist to come to auction in decades.â€™
Makron worked in a relatively new style known as â€˜red-figureâ€™, which involved creating shapes from negative space against a painted background. Details were then added with a brush and slip. This technique replaced the predominant â€˜black-figureâ€™ style, which required detail to be incised into painted figures, and made portraying pictorial depth tricky.
Makronâ€™s name survives today thanks to a single signed work, a skyphos now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, which features the words â€˜Makron drew meâ€™ painted on one handle.
The underside of one of the cupâ€™s handles was inscribed by the potter with the words, â€˜Hieron made meâ€™
In the 20th century, however, a further 350 ceramics (including this one) were attributed to Makron by the Oxford University professor Sir John Beazley (1885-1970). Beazley catalogued thousands of Greek vases by studying each painterâ€™s style in minute detail. In the case of Makron, his characters feature distinctive round heads with flat tops and drapery folds drawn with great finesse.
Today, nearly all of Makronâ€™s vases are housed in major institutions, including the Met, the Louvre, the British Museum and the Getty. According to Bernheimer, â€˜Hardly any are left in private hands, which makes this one all the more desirable to collectors.â€™