( fl c. 565–c. 555 BC). Greek vase painter. A Lakonian Black-figure
artist, he is named after a cup from Vulci (Paris, Bib. N., Cab.
Médailles, 189) showing King Arkesilaos of Cyrene (probably
Arkesilaos II, reg c. 565–560 BC) watching the weighing and packing
of a white substance (?silphion), a precious plant used as a
medicine which was the monopoly of the kings of Cyrene. The subject
of this cup was used by early scholars to support the mistaken view
that Lakonian vases were in fact Cyrenean. The career of the
Arkesilaos Painter was short and few works by him—most of them
cups—have survived. Two of his cups are decorated with mythological
scenes: one (Rome, Villa Giulia) shows Herakles Pursuing Two
Amazons; the other (Rome, Vatican, Mus. Gregoriano Etrus., 16592)
depicts Atlas and the Torture of Prometheus. He also favoured
symposium scenes. The Arkesilaos Painter was not a first-rate
draughtsman; his style is rather naive and his figures stiff. He
does, however, display a liking for narrative and his scenes are
lively and expressive. His choice and treatment of subjects make him
perhaps the most original of the 6th-century BC Lakonian vase
Kylix, Laconian, Atlas and Prometheus
Heracles fighting the Cretan bull, while a siren
perches on a branch. Laconian black-figure kylix in the manner of the
Arkesilas Painter, ca. 550 BC.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Cyrenian king Arkesilas watching over the bundling
of wool (Boardman) or the preparation of silphion. Tondo of a Laconian black-figure cup. From Vulci, Etruria.
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