Ancient Greece: A Journey in Painters of Pottery 

       Pottery has been around for thousands of years. It is made by forming clay into objects of a required shape and size then heating them to extremely high temperatures to dry and harden them. In Ancient Greece pottery can be easily divided by time period based on style of painting and artistry. Each artist was an important part of the artistic community during specific parts of Greek history. They each had their own signature style and preferred method of painting.         There were many painting techniques circulating in Ancient Greece though two became more popular than the others. The first is Red Figure Pottery in which the figure on the piece is left in the colour of the clay and the background is painted black. The second is Black Figure Pottery where the figure is painted black and the background is left in the colour of the clay. Each artist worked with their preferred style to add their own twist to the image. Examining the artistry gives clues into the hand that painted the original image on the piece of pottery. This exhibition seeks to explore the many artistic talents in Greece through the many painters that helped to further Greek culture.  

The Swing Painter, the artist behind this amphora was not an outstanding artist. One of the original artists of the Black Figure Movement, he created work that was involuntarily amusing. Looking closely at this piece we can see that the heads of the figures are oversized and the bodies are done in a slightly careless fashion. On this early form of pottery techniques are still developing and the human form has not been fully explored.
The Diosphos Painter, who has always been associated with other painters and workshops, also worked in the Black Figure medium. In looking at the figures on the lekythos they still resemble animations. The bodies are round and thick and the limbs are long and thin. The human form is still a foreign concept at this stage.
The Euphronios Painter, a member of the Pioneer group who made the original switch from black to red figure pottery styles, was one of the most important artists of his time. His works depict chronological sequences rather than one or two figures. Euphronios was known for his simple rendering of dress, ability to handle anatomy and as seen on this piece, us of figures to tell a story.
The Berlin Painter, has some unique features to all of his works. His figures are usually isolated or paired, without framing against a glossy background. The human form is much more understood as muscles and bone structure are illustrated more fully. The Berlin Painter, as can be seen here, pays close attention to the way clothing is draped on the body and the way facial features are portrayed. He is also known for the patterns he adds to the handles, rims and bases.
The Foundry Painter, responsible for this wonderful piece was known for painting heavier but well observed figures. He is known to focus on the male anatomy leaving many describing his work as crude. He used body hair to show masculinity, as shown with the beards on the men depicted on this bowl. This image in particular is unique because it is one of the only depictions and sources we have of ancient metal production
The Kleophon Painter paints in a style that is very common of this time period. With that being said he still has several characteristics which allow for us to distinguish his works from others. The eyes of his figures are shaped like rounded triangles as are the chins. The noses of the figure have a sharp quality to them with a small rounded tip. He pays special attention to the skeletal contours and musculature of the body making the figures life like.
The Shuvalov Painter was known to paint smaller vessels. The figures on these vessels would be small with extremely intense gazes. His images appear shallow and simplistic. Much like the figures on this vessel, many of the Shuvalov Painter’s figures are found in erotic poses and situations.
Assteas was a Greek Painter that resided in a Greek colony in Southern Italy. For this reason he was able to draw inspiration from different cultures. His work consisted of mostly mythological scenes though he was known to partake in paintings of a theatrical and slapstick comedy nature. By just looking at the figures on this piece you can tell that his experience in the human form was much different than that of his counterparts. Works are attributed to him because he signs his work with “Assteas painted it”.
With the Underworld Painter we see a rapid decline in the ability to paint facial features but an increase in skill for painting the human body with all of its contours and movements. When painting facial expressions his subjects were often left looking grumpy. He is also known for making his vases look heavy with exaggerated decorations and scenes with many figures. As illustrated in this piece all aspects of a story were featured on a vase rather than just one.
This vase is attributed to the Apulian Workshop. With a larger than normal group of painters working out of this shop it becomes difficult to attribute this piece to just one painter. This workshop has several unique characteristics. The vases they produce have rich ornamentation on the neck and sides of the vase. There is a new use of other colours in the images such as gold, white and orange. Most commonly they depict images of underworld places with individuals performing offerings to the gods or to the dead
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