Ancient Greek vases are one of our most important sources for understanding ancient Greek culture, history, everyday life, mythology and iconography. Our collection of replica ancient Greek vases at It’s All Greek comes to us from four of our Greek suppliers.
The black-figure technique of ancient Greek vase-painting was developed between the 7th-5th centuries BC. The principal centres for this style were initially Corinth, then Athens. Other important production sites were Boeotia, Laconia and in the Greek colonies of southern Italy, where individual styles developed which catered for the Etruscan market.
Attica, however, with Athens at its centre, became the most famous centre for black-figure painting, with over 20,000 surviving vases in this style. Potters in Attica used the excellent iron-rich clay found in the area. The period between 560BC and the inception of red-figure pottery in 530-20BC is considered to be the pinnacle of Athenian black-figure painting. To this period belongs the Amasis Painter and Exekias, the two masters of the technique.
The red-figure technique was an Athenian ‘invention’ of the late 6th century BC. It eclipsed to a large degree the black-figure technique, because it allowed the painter greater scope for the rendering of detail, the representation of perspective and for more accurate anatomical expression. Of the Greek red-figure pottery produced in Athens alone, more than 40,000 examples have survived.
The study of Athenian vase painting is indebted to John Beazley, who classified each fragment according to style, a technique which allowed him to detect particular “hands” and to build up a database of Greek potters and painters who lived and worked in Athens during the late 6th and 5th centuries BC. Some fragments included an inscription indicating the specific potter or painter responsible but, more often, Beazley assigned names according to favoured subject-matters, individual characteristics, or after the city in which their most famous pieces now reside. Some of these famous painters include the Andokides Painter, Euphronios, Euthymides, the Berlin and Kleophrades Painters, the Brygos Painter, Douris, Makron, the Orpheus Painter and the Pan Painter.
The other important area of production was in South Italy. There were numerous Greek colonies there, hence the area’s name ‘Magna Graecia’: more than 20,000 vases and fragments have been preserved from this area.
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