The Marlay Painter was one of 4 painters included in the Marlay Group, who worked in the red-figured technique during the mid to late 5th century B.C. The most skilled of the group, the Marlay Painter painted both large kraters and smaller vessels. While his identity is unknown like most Greek vase painters, Beazley named him based on a calyx-krater formerly in the Marlay Collection, now in Cambridge (for the painter, see pp. 1276-1282 in J.D. Beazley, Attic Red-figure Vase-painters).
The column-krater is a vessel used for mixing wine and water, as wine in Ancient Greece needed to be diluted before consumption. The decoration on the obverse of this vase reinforces its function, since it depicts Dionysos, the god of wine, together with his mischievous drinking partners, a satyr and maenads.