chapter  II
'Commonly Called Etruscan Vases'
Pages 30

At Sotheby's London auction rooms in December 1993 a collection of sixty-four Greek vases was sold for a total of five and a half million pounds, far outstripping the absurdly low estimates given in the sale catalogue {Hirschmann 1993). Three million pounds of that sum was paid for just two rare vases: a pair of Caeretan hydriai (Bloesch 1982: nos. 10 and 11; Hemelrijk 1984: nos. 29 and 25; Hirschmann 1993: lots 35 and 36; cf. Figure V: 5 for a Caeretan hydria). One alone fetched over two million - it is a perfectly preserved piece which on the front shows a hero, either Perseus or Herakles, fighting against a sea-monster and on the back a hunt after a stag and a goat. The prices paid for this and the other vases confirm, in one commentator's words, 'the continuing strength of the Greek vase market' (Eisenberg 1994: 30). Twenty years earlier the first 'million-dollar' vase was bought by the Metropolitan Museum of New York (von Bothmer 1976; 1981a): a red-figure Athenian calyx-krater (Figure II: 1) which displays a scene with the body of the Trojan ally Sarpedon being lifted from the field of battle by Sleep and Death in the presence of Hermes (cf. Iliad XVI.666-83). The vase bears the name of the painter: Euphronios, and of the potter: Euxitheos; the protagonists are also named, as is a young man of the day, Leagros, who is saluted as kalos, meaning 'handsome'. It is an excellently preserved and high-quality example of Late Archaic work, c. 510 BC.