Art expert unravels mystery of ancient Greek pots

Toledo Museum of Art image


The Toledo Museum of Art is offering an in-depth learning experience with Sanchita Balachandran, associate director of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. On Saturday, Sept. 23, Balachandran will present a lecture titled “CSI (Ceramics Scene Investigation), Ancient Athens: Investigating Greek Potters and Painters” in the Little Theater at 2 p.m. Admission is free.

Balachandran’s talk will focus on her ground-breaking work to solve the 2,500-year-old mystery of how ancient Greek craftspeople fabricated their highly artistic and technologically significant red-figure ceramics. Based on her 2015 Johns Hopkins University undergraduate course, “Recreating Ancient Greek Ceramics,” Balachandran, an art conservator, will discuss the importance of collaborating with a professional potter and incorporating the expertise of art historians, archaeologists and materials scientists in teaching a hands-on class for college students to make their own “ancient” cups.

In addition to the lecture, Balachandran will collaborate with the TMA Conservation Department on photographing a small selection of ancient works in a new way.

“During her visit to Toledo, Sanchita Balachandran will discuss her latest research to identify the presence or absence of line drawings on red figure ceramics utilizing Reflection Transformation Imaging, a photographic-computer process that reveals low relief details of the artists’ design and handiwork,” said Suzanne Hargrove, head of conservation at the Museum. “She will highlight examples she has studied at the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum and other cultural institutions, and will include select artworks from the TMA collection of red-figure vessels to be imaged during her visit for this talk.”

Both the “Recreating Ancient Greek Ceramics” course and some of the findings from the revelatory Reflection Transformation Imaging process will be addressed during the Sept. 23 discussion. The free lecture is open to the public and is recommended for anyone with interests in the arts and sciences. This event is part of the programming for The Berlin Painter and His World: Athenian Vase-Painting in the Early Fifth Century B.C., which runs through Oct. 1, 2017. Admission to the exhibition is free for Museum members and $10 for nonmembers.

The Berlin Painter and His World: Athenian Vase-Painting in the Early Fifth Century B.C. has been organized by the Princeton University Art Museum. Major support for this exhibition has been provided by the Leon Levy Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The Toledo showing is made possible in part by Taylor Cadillac, Christies, the Ohio Arts Council, James and Gregory Demirjian, Princeton University Alumni of Northwest Ohio, an anonymous donor, and generous gifts received in memory of Kurt Luckner, with additional support from 2017 Exhibition Sponsor ProMedica.

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