famous Greek vase and certainly one of the most well-known and widely studied
“minor” works of classical antiquity, the François Vase is presented here to
the public in a precise but clear and straght-forward text intended for both
students and scholars, but also for the casual, non-specialist admirer.
Discovered in two different excavation campaigns, in 1844 and 1845, in the
Etruscan city of Camars or Clevsie-, present-day Chiusi (Siena), by
Alessandro François, War Commissioner of the Granduke Leopold II of
Habsburg-Lorraine, the krater (a symposium vase for mixing water and wine) is
one of the undisputed masterpieces of ancient Greek pottery. Thanks to its 270
figures and 131 inscriptions, that include the signatures of the potter
Ergotimos and the painter Kleitias who produced it in Athens around 565 BC, the
large krater with volute handles also constitutes a sort of summa of Greek religious thought, a
mythology manual of the ancient Greeks, and, in particular, of the Athenians in
the final years of Solon’s leadership, so much so as to sometimes be referred
to as the Bible of archeology, the Encyclopedia or Anthology of Greek
mythology, and which we can also easily consider Rex Vasorum, King of Vases!
Photos by Fernando Guerrini.