Narrative Art: Mythological

By Vihos, Lisa; Pezalla-Granlund, Margaret | School Arts, December 1999 | Go to article overview

Narrative Art: Mythological


Vihos, Lisa, Pezalla-Granlund, Margaret, School Arts


Attributed to the Boread Painter, Lakonian Black-Figure Kylix, interior: Bellerophon and Pegasos Battle the Chimaera, Sparta (in Lakonia), 570-565 B.C., terracotta, height: 4 11/16" (12 cm), diameter of bowl: 5 1/2" (14 cm), The J. Paul Getty Museum, 85.AE.121.

In ancient times, Greek vase painters often decorated their vessels with imagery from myths. This kylix, or shallow cup for drinking wine, comes from an area in southeastern Greece called Lakonia. It shows three mythological figures engaged in battle. In the center, the hero, Bellerophon, attacks the Chimaera, a fire-breathing creature composed of a lion, a snake, and a goat. Bellerophon thrusts his spear into the belly of the monster. With his other hand, he holds his winged horse, Pegasos, who helps by kicking the beast. Bellerophon had been given a series of seemingly impossible tasks--one of which was to defeat the Chimaera--by the king of Lycia. After completing all the tasks successfully, the hero married the king's daughter.

The painter has created a balanced composition by placing the three figures in a compact, triangular arrangement that fills the circular bowl.

?? Why do you think this is called a black-figure kylix? Can you find the animals that make the Chimaera? Where do you see repeating patterns in the decoration? How does the painter show us the action of the story?

GalleryCard submitted by Lisa Vihos, Manager of Educational Resources, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California. …

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