The vessel is decorated in black-figure with additional red and white paint to enhance the details. On the exterior sits a figure of Dionysus holding a rhyton, between two large white painted apotropaic eyes. There are dancing satyrs to either side, with dolphins leaping beneath the handles. The interior is painted black, with a large Gorgoneion on the tondo.
Karl Donndorf (1870 – 1941) Collection, Stuttgart, Germany, acquired prior to 1941, thence by descent
Donndorf was a son of the sculptor Adolf von Donndorf. After training with his father and at the Stuttgart art school, he continued his studies in Dresden (1892), Paris (1900) and Rome (1902). His later works were influenced by his interest in Classical art, for example his 1911 sculpture, Pallas Athena Brunnen (Athena springing from head of Zeus).
The cup with its white eyes, rays on the lower body, as well as the figures between the eyes and the handles, is a rare type. Similar examples belong to the Krokotos Group, such as another Dionysiac themed cup from the Northwick Park Collection also with dolphins under the handles: see J.D. Beazley, Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters, Oxford, 1956, p. 207 (Beazley Archive Pottery Database no. 302651).
The combination of a figure and vines between the eyes, allied with satyrs beyond the eyes and dolphins under the handles, is most commonly found on cups with black eyes and black lower bodies, often attributed to the Pittsburgh Painter, Essen Group and the Leafless Group. The Donndorf cup cannot be clearly attributed to any of these groups or painters; the combination of decorative elements on the cup appears to be unique.
For a similar example with satyrs attributed to near the Pittsburgh Painter and now in Syracuse, see J.D. Beazley, Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters, Oxford, 1956, 629.1 (Beazley Archive Pottery Database no. 331751); and one with Dionysus, satyrs and dolphin belonging to the Leafless group, now in the Charterhouse School Museum, see Beazley Archive Pottery Database no. 331775.