1909 to 1995
A.D. (Dale) Trendall was a legendary figure and one of the foremost historians of Greek art of the 20th century. He was the principal authority on the red-figure vases produced in the Greek colonies and native areas of South Italy and Sicily during the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. He also exerted a profound influence upon the study of the Humanities generally, and of Classical civilisation specifically, in Australian universities for over half a century.
Trendall was born in Glenmore (Auckland), New Zealand, on 28 March, 1909, and died in Melbourne, Australia, on 13 November, 1995. He was educated at King's College in Auckland (1916-1925); the University of New Zealand (now the University of Otago) in Dunedin (1926-1929); and at Trinity College in the University of Cambridge (1931-1933). In 1939 he accepted an invitation to take up the position of Professor of Greek in the University of Sydney, a position he held until 1954, concurrently from 1948 with the newly established Chair of Archaeology. For fifteen years (1954-1969) he was the first Master of University House at the Australian National University in Canberra. He retired from teaching and administration in 1960 to become Resident Fellow of La Trobe University in Melbourne, where he remained for some 26 years.
His academic life was devoted primarily to the study of the red-figured vases produced in South Italy and Sicily during the Classical period. Decorated with scenes of myth or everyday life these vases, thousands of which are scattered in museums throughout the world, constitute a primary source for many aspects of Greek and indigenous culture in Italy. At the beginning of his career Trendall set himself the task of distinguishing the various local red-figure styles, and of attributing, through careful stylistic analysis, the vases to painters. That the basic classification has now been established, and we are able to appreciate the work of many individual painters, is largely the result of Trendall's unremitting scholarly activity over some 60 years.
Trendall's principal publications include the following works:
- Paestan Pottery (BSR 1936)
- Handbook to the Nicholson Museum (University of Sydney, 2nd ed. 1948)
- Vasi antichi dipinti del Vaticano. Vasi italioti ed etruschi a figure rosse (Città del Vaticano 1953)
- The Red-figured Vases of Lucanian, Campania, and Sicily (Clarendon Press 1967)
- Phlyax Vases (Institute of Classical Studies, 2nd ed. 1967)
- Illustrations of Greek Drama (Phaidon 1971) - with T.B.L. Webster
- Greek Vases in the Logie Collection (University of Canterbury 1971)
- Early South Italian Vase-painting (Philipp von Zabern, rev. ed. 1974)
- Greek Vases in the National Gallery of Victoria (National Gallery of Victoria 1978)
- The Red-figured Vases of Apulia I-II (Clarendon Press 1978-1982) - with Alexander Cambitoglou
- The Red-figured Vases of Paestum (BSR 1987)
- Greek Red-figured Fish-plates (Basel 1987) - with Ian McPhee
- Red Figure Vases of South Italy and Sicily (Thames and Hudson 1989)