01.03.2017

Wine and the Vine in Objets d'Art

ANTIQUITY

We can take ‘Antiquity’ to mean the period from the emergence of writing in Mesopotamia towards 3600 BC to the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD.

Étendard d'Ür, c. 2550-2400 av JC, Le roi et sa cour - British Museum, Londres

THE STANDARD OF UR (detail)

The King and His Court are banqueting, 'Peace side', upper register

Royal cemetery of City of Ur

Inlaid mosaic scenes made from shell, red limestone and lapis lazuli, set in bitume

ca. 2550-2400 BC.

British Museum, London

During the Bronze Age, 2700 years before the birth of Christ, the King of Ur drinks wine with his Court. The form of the cups show us that it cannot be beer. This decorative piece is one of the earliest representations of wine in art. It is of Sumerian origin, discovered in the former royal cemetery of the city of Ur, situated to the south of Baghdad in what is now Iraq. The ‘liturgical feast’ shown on the uppermost row of the Standard of Ur’s ‘Scene of Peace’ (below) is probably the first representation of wine-tasting. The King is shown celebrating a victory with his brothers in arms. Wine has been synonymous with sharing, brotherhood, conviviality, unity and nationhood for 4500 years. 

Jarre à col, Culture de Grotta-Pelos, Cyclades, 3000-2800 av. J-C. Terre cuite, Getty Museum, LA
Bouteille à haut col à décor de rinceaux de vigne, Sédéinga (Soudan) - Musée du Louvre

COLLARED JAR

Grotta-Pelos Group
Cyclades, Greece, 3.000-2.800 BC.

Terracotta, 14.9 x 14.6 cm
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

TUTHMOSIS III OFFERS WINE TO A GOD

Ritual statuette

Dynasty XVIII, 1479-1425 BC.

Black bronze, gold inlay, h. 16.2 cm

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

HIGH NECK AND A VINE TENDRIL DECORATION

Sedeinga (Sudan)

4th-5th century BC.

Terracotta, h. 34.5 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
 / 3

3. The earthenware from the Meroitic necropolis of Sedeinga included many such vases, but this is one of the most elegant and best preserved. Leaf decoration also features on Egyptian ceramics (from the Theban region) which date from the contemporary Roman period; it originated in Hellenistic designs of lanceolate leaves and ivy. The latter is hardly recognizable; in fact, archaeologists often mistook it for vine, the most common plant motif during the Roman period (source : Musée du Louvre). 

Cratère de Vix - Musée du Pays châtillonais
Cratère à volutes - British Museum

VIX KRATER
530-520 BC.

Western Greek, Made in South Italy
Bronze, H. 164 cm, 1 100 liters
Musée du Pays châtillonnais, Burgundy, France

VOLUTE KRATER (bowl for mixing wine and water)
ca. 500-450 BC.

Western Greek, Made in Tarento (probably), South Italy
Bronze, H. 60,2 cm
British Museum, Londons

Rhyton orné d'une tête de griffon - Britis Museum, Londres
Rhyton au centaure - Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienne
Rhyton orné d'une tête de limace - Corning Museum of Glass

RHYTON TERMINATING IN THE FOREPART OF A GRIFFIN
5th century BC., Altintepe, Turkey
Gilt silver, h. 23 cm
British Museum, London

RHYTON TERMINATING IN THE FOREPART OF A CENTAUR
ca. 160 BC., Greece
Silver, h. 22 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

RHYTON
75-125, Roman Empire
Glass, h. 21 cm
Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York

Oenochoé ionienne orientalisante, style des "Chèvres sauvages" - Musée du Louvre
Rhyton attique à figures rouges - Musée du Louvre
Cratère en cloche attique à figures rouges - Musée du Louvre

LEVY OENOCHOE
Oriental style, Ionnian
Terracotta, ca. 640-630 BC., 39.50 x 30 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris / 1

ATTIC RED-FIGURE RHYTON

Douris, 480-470 BC.
Clay, H. 14,8 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris / 2

RED FIGURE ATTIC BELL-KRATER
ca. 500-490 BC., Athens
33 x 33 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris / 3

1. The most orientalised styles of the 7th century BC doubtless came from Eastern Greece, an area encompassing the Aegean islands and the cities of the Ionian coast. Here, we can spot many Oriental motifs such as animal friezes (big cats and deer), fantastic beasts (sirens, griffons and sphinxes) and patterns featuring rosettes, lotuses and palm fronds. Eastern Greece’s varied artistic output shared a common style in the second half of the 7th century BC: the “wild goat” style. This was often a decorative feature on oenochoes (triple-lipped wine-pouring vessels) and is characterised by layered vegetable and animal decorations; wild goats are heavily featured in such work, hence the name. The “Levy oenochoe” is a particularly refined example of this style. Monsters (griffon and sphinx) feature on its shoulders, while the body of the vessel is covered with five alternating layers depicting grazing goats and deer, leading towards the right. The whole object is covered with a profusion of small decorative motifs whose “carpeting” effect brings to mind the very embroidery through which all these decorative motifs were brought to Greece in the first place. 

 

2. The rhyton, a drinking vessel whose form is inspired by oriental metalware, is made up of a cylindrical bowl equipped with a handle and the head of a real or fictional animal at its extremity. The bowl of the rhyton of Douris is decorated with two scenes, separated in the middle by a series of diamonds, strips, twists and crosses. Each image depicts a character linked to the banqueting universe in which the vase itself is destined to feature. Two naked comastes, each carrying a himation (an ancient Greek draping garment) in their arms and holding a stick, dance a few steps – probably under the influence of wine. One of them is holding a cup; in the next image, the vase is hanging from the wall by its handle, as was customary at banquets. 

 

* Participants in the komos were known as comastes. In archaeological and iconographic literature, the word generally refers to a noisy group of festive drinkers accompanied by musicians, characteristic of depictions of banquets and Dionysiac feasts. This procession may have its roots in a festival of nature, dedicated to Dionysius, and the subsequent harvest festival. Featuring regularly on Attic vases from the 6th century BC, it seems to have gradually lost its ritual significance and become a private entertainment. (Source: Musée du Louvre)

3. The first quarter of the 5th century BC (500-475 BC) was the golden age of Attic red-figure pottery. The work of this time stood out thanks both to its artistic mastery and the variety of its thematic repertoire […] The krater [two-handled vase for mixing wine and water] shown here is a variant of the bell krater: it’s actually known as a lugged krater, due to the shape of its handles. The scene here depicts Ganymede (side A) pursued by Zeus (side B). Ganymede, one of the handsomest young men of Greek mythology, was courted by Zeus and finally kidnapped by him; disguised as an eagle, Zeus took Ganymede to Mount Olympus to serve as the gods’ cupbearer [...] Ganymede is naked, playing with a hoop (a symbol of youth) and holding a cockerel, a loving gift from Zeus. (Source: Musée du Louvre)

BLACK-FIGURE AMPHORA

Attributed to the Leagros Group
 Black-varnished terracotta with red and white painted accents
Greek (Attic), ca. 520-500 BC., H. 44,50 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris / 1

BLACK-FIGURE AMPHORA

Attributed to the Leagros Group
 Black-varnished terracotta with red and white painted accents
Greek (Attic), ca. 520-500 BC., H. 44,50 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris / 2

1. Black-figure neck amphora, side A painted with a bearded Dionysus seated on a folding stool featuring animalsí feet at the base, clad in a chiton and himation, with a wreath of ivy on his head and holding a bundle of vine tendrils. His head is turned towards a naked, ithyphallic satyr playing a zither. On the right, another naked satyr is singing an accompaniment to the same instrument. The space is filled with vine branches, lending the scene an air of celebration. Side B is painted with a maenad dressed in a chiton with a wreath of ivy on her head, seated on a goat and playing the crotals. On either side of her is a naked, bearded man wearing an ivy wreath. The space is filled with branches (source: catalogue vente Pierre Bergé & Associés, expert Christophe Kunicki).

 

2. Black-figure neck amphora, side A painted with a bearded Dionysus standing, wearing a chiton and himation, with a wreath of ivy on his head, holding a cantharus in his left hand and vine tendrils in his right. At his feet is a panther. He is accompanied by two naked, bearded satyrs, each holding aloft a maenad wearing a chiton and playing the crotals (the genitals of the satyrs were deliberately obscured in the 19th century for religious reasons). The space is filled with vine tendrils. Side B is painted with a bearded Dionysus standing, wearing a chiton and himation, with a wreath of ivy on his head, holding a cantharus in his left hand and vine tendrils in his right. At his feet is a goat. A maenad stands either side of him, each wearing a maenad, the one on the left playing the crotals, the other dancing. The space is filled with vine tendrils (source : catalogue vente Pierre Bergé & Associés, expert Christophe Kunicki).

Satyre jouant de l'aulos en l'honneur de Dionysos - Altes Museum, Berlin

SATYR PLAYING AULOS IN DIONYSOS' HONOR

Tondo from an Attic red-figure kylix

Greece, ca. 480 BC.

Altes Museum, Berlin

Dionysos, marbre - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

DIONYSOS

ca. 340  BC.

Marble probably from the Greek Island of Paros, H. 34 cm

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, United States

Verseuse en forme de pince de crabe - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

VASE IN THE FORM OF A LOBSTER CLAW
Greece (Attic), ca. 460 BC.

7 x 7,3 cm

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Tête provenant d'une statue de Bacchus jeune - The Getty Villan Malibu, CA

HETHE STATUE OF THE YOUNG BACCHUS
Unknown Roman artist,

First half of 1st century AD, h. 21.6 cm
The Getty Villa, Malibu, California, United States

Jeune homme versant du vin à Dionysos - Musée du Louvre

YOUTH POURING WINE IN DIONYSOS' KANTHAROS
Tondo from an Attic red-figure kylix

Greece, ca. 480 BC.

Musée du Louvre, Paris

Bacchus enfant - Musée Saint Rémi, Reims

INFANT BACCHUS (detail)

Gallo-Roman bronze

Reims

Saint Remi Museum, Reims, France

THE MIDDLE AGES

The term ‘Middle Ages’ usually denotes the period immediately following Antiquity. This period goes from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD to the discovery of America and the taking of Granada by the royal armies of Aragon and Castile, which both took place in 1492.

Corne à boire en verre - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Coupe à boire (hanap) - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Bol à boire en argent et avec poignée - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

GLASS DRINKING HORN
Made in Italy (North), Langobardic?, 575-625

Glass, 21 x 7 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

DRINKING VESSEL (hanap; one of a pair)
Made in possibly Toulouse, France - 1320-1360

Silver, silver gilt, translucent enamel, and opaque enamel, h. 55.2 cm
Metropolitan Museum o
f Art, New York

DRINKING BOWL WITH HANDLE
Made in Tirana, Avar art, 8th century
Silver, d. 18.5 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Calice, Frère Bertinus - The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Trésor d'Attarouthi, Calice - The Metropolitan Musum of Art
Calice de l'Abbé Pelage - Musée du Louvre

CHALICE
Brother Bertinus, Made in possibly Meuse Valley, Northen Europe, 1222
Silver and silver gilt, H. 19,1 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

THE ATTAROUTHI TREASURE - CHALICE
Made in Attarouthi, Syria, Byzantine art, 500-650
Silver and gilded silver, h. 24.6 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

PRIEST PELAGE'S CHALICE
Santiago de Penalba, Spain, 12th century
Silver and silver gilt
Musée du Louvre, Paris

THE MODERN ERA

The Modern Era follows the Middle Ages. It started with the taking of Granada and the discovery of America in 1492 and continues to the present day.

Diane au cerf, jeu à boire - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bras de lumière, bronze doré - The Meropolitan Museum of Art
Diane chevauchant un centaure, jeu à boire - Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienne

DIANA AND THE STAG, DRINKING GAME
Joachim Friess, German, Augsburg, ca. 1620
Partially gilded silver, enamel, jewels (case); iron, wood (movement)

37,5 x 24,1 cm - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

BRAS DE LUMIERE (One of four three-light sconces)
Etienne-Jean Forestier (or his brother Pierre-Auguste) Forestier, 1788
Gilt bronze, H. 55,2 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

DIANA AND THE CENTAUR
Clock, automate, and drinking game
Hans Jakobe I. Bachmann

1602/06 - Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna, Austria / 3

3. This automaton serves not just as a timepiece (the dial is on the centaur’s breast), but as a "Trinkspiel" – a drinking game. Its hidden mechanism allows it to slide around the table within a certain perimeter. The centaur rolls its eyes; Diana’s head moves from side to side; a hunting hound lifts its own. Witnesses to this would have been left open-mouthed. Then the centaur would have sent its golden arrow at one of the guests, then required to raise a toast and empty his glass. Diana hunting was a preferred theme for this type of object. See Work of the Month >>

Carafe, argent en partie doré - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Pot à vin de messe, argent en partie doré - The Metropolitan Museum of Art

WINE DECANTER
Johannes Szakall, 1779, Hungarian, Kolozsvár
Silver, partly gilded, h. 32.5 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

GOBLET (ROEMER)
Dutch, probably Amsterdam, early 17th century
Glass, engraved with a diamond point, h. 28.6 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

COMMUNION JUG

Hungarian, 1639
Silver, partly gilded, H. 40,5 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New-York 

Bacchus, nymphe et enfant au raisin, terre cuite, Clodion - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ivresse, terre cuite, Clodion - The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bacchante, Bacchus et un faune - Norton Simon Foundation, LA

BACCHUS, NYMPH WITH A CHILD AND GRAPES

Claude Michel Clodion, ca. 1790-1800

Terracotta, H. 47 cm

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

THE INTOXICATION OF WINE

Claude Michel Clodion, ca. 1780-1790

Terracotta, H. 58,4 cm

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

BACCHANTE SUPPORTED BY BACCHUS AND A FAUN

Claude Michel Clodion, ca. 1795

Terracotta, H. 50,8 cm

Norton Simon Foundation, Los Angeles

WINE AND THE ARTS

Antique Frescoes
Graphics
Sculpture
and Architecture
Mosaic
and Stained Glass
Tapestry
Objets d'art
Photography
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and Press
Painting
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