Douris

Douris or Duris was an ancient Athenian red-figure vase-painter and potter active c. 500 to 460 BCE.

He began his career painting for the potters Kleophrades and Euphronios, before beginning a long collaboration with the potter Python. He signed 39 vases as a painter, also one as a potter and painter, and one vase as a potter only. Between 250 and 300 vases are ascribed to him. The majority of these vases are kylixes, i.e. cups. His name seems to have been popular, since one finds it on other vases: it is reproduced on a cup by Onesimos. On the basis of these signatures, his kalos inscriptions, and of the subsidiary decoration of the vases, the art historian John Beazley divided his career into four principal periods:

Style:
Douris characterized by a full ornamentation of diverse border motifs. The preferred subjects are the symposium, the komoi (processions of drunks), and warriors. The period is marked out by the use of the kalos-inscription ‘Chairestratos’. Beazley suggests that at this time Douris could have worked side by side with Onesimos in the same workshop.

Douris’ collaboration with Euphronios ends; from then on, he paints for the potter Python. Chairestratos remains the preferred kalos-inscription. Subsidiary decoration begins to recede, and the majority of the medallions do not have an edge. The favoured subjects are the scenes of youths and athletes. The hand of Douris is made clear from now on by the characteristic use of a kind of hook for the inner end of the collarbone. A characteristic piece of the period of the period is a psykter (wine cooler) decorated with drunken satyrs, reproducing in a grotesque manner the different stages of intoxication.

Douris’ style is here at its most idiosyncratic. The edges of the medallion are characterized by the alternation of an element of a meander and squares; palmettes decorate the handles of the cup. The kalos-inscriptions ‘Hippodamas’ become prevalent; Douris’ signatures become scarcer. Douris returns to the scenes of the symposium, and to depictions of warriors and school-scenes. A characteristic period of this period is the cup known as of the “pieta of Memnon”: Eos carries the body of her son Memnon, killed by Achilles during the Trojan War.

Douris returns to a full ornamentation. The borders sometimes retain the (‘Hippodamas-type’) border of alternating stopt maeanders and saltire crosses, but gradually revert to the common type; the palmettes on the handles become complicated and of the motifs of the lotus appear in parallel. Douris’ signatures disappear altogether and the kalos-inscriptions decrease in frequency; one finds ‘Polyphrasmon’ and ‘HIketes’. The drawing quality degenerates in grace and force.

Works:
Wine Cup with a Boy Holding a Lyre The J. Paul Getty Museum
Scenes of the daily lives of Athenian schoolboys decorate this red-figure cup. In addition to basic literacy and mathematics, Greek boys were trained in athletics and music. On the interior of the cup, a boy holding a lyre stands in front of a bearded man, who must be his music teacher. On the outside, men and boys form similar scenes. The imagined walls of the schoolroom are hung with musical instruments and athletic equipment: lyres, string bags with knucklebones, sponges, and aryballoi. The scenes on this cup are not purely educational, however. On one side of the vase, a boy holds a hare on his lap, while on the other, a man offers a hare to another boy. In addition to serving as a classroom, the gymnasion in its role as the center of Greek physical and intellectual life was also the center of romantic courtship. Hares were popular love gifts in the homosexual relationships between older men and boys favored by the Athenian aristocracy in the early 500s B.C.

Douris Cup Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien
A popular subject among vase-painters from Archaic times was the fight between Odysseus and Ajax for the divine armour of the Greek hero Achilles, who was killed in the siege of Troy. The painter Douris’s artwork on this magnificent cup, which was created by the potter Python, ranks among the most important depictions. The pictures on the outside and inside form a unity, presenting various moments in the dispute. On the outside of the cup is the imminent clash: Agamemnon stands in the centre, wielding his sceptre over the object at issue, the armour of Achilles, and preventing the coming fight. On the left is Ajax with his sword drawn; on the right is Odysseus in a defensive posture, followed by two warriors, respectively, who try to hold them back. The other side of the cup illustrates the outcome of the dispute. After both Ajax and Odysseus laid claim to the weapons, a vote on the legitimate owner took place. Four men with voting-pebbles approach the podium, behind which the goddess Athena appears as judge, to cast their votes. Ajax, wrapped in his mantle, stands on the far right, averting his gaze from the scene in disappointment at the expected decision. On the left Odysseus cheerfully raises his hands at the sight of the large number of pebbles on his side. The inner picture shows the outcome of the dispute: Odysseus hands the Greek hero’s arms (helmet, shield, breastplate,greaves, spear), forged by Hephaestus, the god of fire and metal-working, to Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles. The painter of this magnificent vessel was Douris, one of the most important cup-painters of the early 5th century BC; he signed his work on the left edge of the inner picture. Around 490 BC he formed a workshop cooperative with the potter Python (signature on the edge of the ring stand).