Ancient Greek art
Ancient Greek art stands out among that of other ancient cultures for its development of naturalistic but idealized depictions of the human body, in which nude male figures were the focus of innovation. The rate of stylistic development between about 750 and 300 BC was remarkable by ancient standards, in surviving works is best seen in sculpture. There were important innovations in painting, which have to be reconstructed due to the lack of original survivals of quality, other than the distinct field of painted pottery. Greek architecture, technically simple, established a harmonious style with numerous detailed conventions that were adopted by Roman architecture and are still followed in some modern buildings, it used a vocabulary of ornament, shared with pottery and other media, had an enormous influence on Eurasian art after Buddhism carried it beyond the expanded Greek world created by Alexander the Great. The social context of Greek art included radical political developments and a great increase in prosperity.
The earliest art by Greeks is excluded from "ancient Greek art", instead known as Aegean art. The art of ancient Greece is divided stylistically into four periods: the Geometric, Archaic and Hellenistic; the Geometric age is dated from about 1000 BC, although in reality little is known about art in Greece during the preceding 200 years, traditionally known as the Greek Dark Ages. The 7th century BC witnessed the slow development of the Archaic style as exemplified by the black-figure style of vase painting. Around 500 BC, shortly before the onset of the Persian Wars, is taken as the dividing line between the Archaic and the Classical periods, the reign of Alexander the Great is taken as separating the Classical from the Hellenistic periods. From some point in the 1st century BC onwards "Greco-Roman" is used, or more local terms for the Eastern Greek world. In reality, there was no sharp transition from one period to another. Forms of art developed at different speeds in different parts of the Greek world, as in any age some artists worked in more innovative styles than others.
Strong local traditions, the requirements of local cults, enable historians to locate the origins of works of art found far from their place of origin. Greek art of various kinds was exported; the whole period saw a steady increase in prosperity and trading links within the Greek world and with neighbouring cultures. The survival rate of Greek art differs starkly between media. We have huge quantities of pottery and coins, much stone sculpture, though more Roman copies, a few large bronze sculptures. Missing are painting, fine metal vessels, anything in perishable materials including wood; the stone shell of a number of temples and theatres has survived, but little of their extensive decoration. By convention, finely painted vessels of all shapes are called "vases", there are over 100,000 complete surviving pieces, giving unparalleled insights into many aspects of Greek life. Sculptural or architectural pottery very painted, are referred to as terracottas, survive in large quantities. In much of the literature, "pottery" means only painted vessels, or "vases".
Pottery was the main form of grave goods deposited in tombs as "funerary urns" containing the cremated ashes, was exported. The famous and distinctive style of Greek vase-painting with figures depicted with strong outlines, with thin lines within the outlines, reached its peak from about 600 to 350 BC, divides into the two main styles reversals of each other, of black-figure and red-figure painting, the other colour forming the background in each case. Other colours were limited to small areas of white and larger ones of a different purplish-red. Within the restrictions of these techniques and other strong conventions, vase-painters achieved remarkable results, combining refinement and powerful expression. White ground technique allowed more freedom in depiction, but did not wear well and was made for burial. Conventionally, the ancient Greeks are said to have made most pottery vessels for everyday use, not for display. Exceptions are the large Archaic monumental vases made as grave-markers, trophies won at games, such as the Panathenaic Amphorae filled with olive oil, pieces made to be left in graves.
In recent decades many scholars have questioned this, seeing much more production than was thought as made to be placed in graves, as a cheaper substitute for metalware in both Greece and Etruria. Most surviving pottery consists of vessels for storing, serving or drinking liquids such as amphorae, hydria, libation bowls and perfume bottles for the toilet and cups. Painted vessels for serving and eating food are much less common. Painted pottery was affordable by ordinary people, a piece "decently decorated with about five or six figures cost about two or three days' wages". Miniatures were produced in large numbers for use as offerings at temples. In the Hellenistic period a wider range of pottery was produced, but most of it is of little artistic importance. In earlier periods quite small Greek cities produced pottery for their own locale. These
Judgement of Paris Amphora
The Judgement of Paris Amphora is an Attic black-figure amphora named for the scene depicted on it. It is held by the Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon with the inventory number E 581-c and is attributed to the London B76 Painter, active at Athens in the second quarter of the sixth century BC; the amphora was made around 575-550 BC, during the Archaic Period and the tyranny of Peisistratus at Athens. The amphora is a piece of black figure pottery, deriving from the region of Attica, located in Mainland Greece to the south of Boeotia, with Athens as its capital; the work is now stored in the Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon under the inventory number E 581-c, in the department of antiquities. It was a donation of Joseph Gillet in 1923. In January 1995 the amphora was cleaned using steam and cotton swabs with water and a little ammonia, it was buffed with soft fibreglass and the missing half of its foot was reconstructed in plaster. This returned the vase to a good state, though some scratches remain around the neck and the red part of the surface is damaged.
The amphora has a figural scene on each of its two faces. These scenes are supplemented by floral patterns above the figural scenes and around the lip of the vase, which are identical on both sides. In this period the vegetation decorating painted vases is becoming symbolic; the scenes are framed like paintings. The background colour of the scenes reappears at the foot of the amphora. On face A there are three Greek goddesses: Hera and Aphrodite dressed in himations, the traditional women's overgarment; each woman holds a crown in her hand as an offering. The women are led by Hermes in the direction of Paris; the scene, therefore is the Judgement of Paris. The indifference displayed by the three goddesses and the tranquil assurance of Paris' face indicate that this vase was among the first depictions of this subject. Following convention, the individuals are represented in profile. Details tend towards realism, notably on the clothes. On face B there is a battle between two armoured hoplites, wielding spears, their legs protected by greaves, their heads by Corinthian helmets, their bodies by hopla (round shields, secured to the forearm by a central strap and moved with a handle.
The word amphora derives from the Greek amphi- and -phoros. They are terracotta vases of variable size with two vertical handles, by which they are carried on both sides, designed for the transport and storage of liquids, they could be painted on their bellies. A large portion of Athenian pottery was produced by the Group of Haimon and the Leafless Group, was carried thence to ports around the Mediterranean; the rest was produced for local use mixing and transporting wine and oil. Attic pottery was valued in the sanctuaries of the Etruscans, where they had additional roles: cultic ritual and votive offerings; these vases signified a dedication to a divinity. Attic cups were common while amphorae were rare; the black figure technique continued alongside it. It was adopted by Athenian potters at the end of the seventh century BC and was still novel in 580 BC, it remained in vogue until around 470. To create this form of pottery, the vases were moulded on the potter's wheel dried in the open air and painted after a few hours.
The outlines of the designs were produced with a diluted black "varnish" made of fine clay. The figures were painted as opaque silhouettes and allowed to dry; the layer of dried slip was scratched with a needle in order to create details. At the same time the artists highlighted elements in white; the vase was fired in three phases: 900 °C with the air vents open: the bare clay turns red or brown 950 °C with the air vents closed: the oven was made smoky by burning green wood and as the carbon oxydised, the vases turned black and the clay slip was vitrified and transformed into "black varnish" Lower temperature with the air vents open again: Oxygen circulates, penetrating the surface of the unvarnished parts of the vase which regain a red or brown colour. The slip retains the black colour. In the archaic period, amphorae display the veneration of gods and heroes in their representation of myths; this vase depicts the myth of the Judgement of Paris. At the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, all the deities were invited except the goddess of discord, Eris.
In revenge she threw a golden apple into the middle of the party, inscribed "a gift for the most beautiful." Hermes read out the inscription. All of the goddesses who considered themselves the most beautiful became jealous of one another. Zeus was unwilling to settle the debate lest he offend his wife, Hera, by judging in favour of another goddess. By mutual consent, the decision was given to the shepherd Paris. Paris was a younger son of King Priam and his wife Hecuba. However, at his birth, an oracle announced that the future prince would cause the destruction of Troy. In fear, Priam ordered that the boy be killed and had Paris exposed on Mount Ida, where he was rescued by shepherds. Paris had to decide amongst: Athena, daughter of Zeus and Metis, goddess of reason and wisdom, she promised Paris victory in his future wars. Hera, daughter of the Titans Kronos and Rhea, was the wife of Zeus, she was the go
In the typology of ancient Greek pottery, the dinos is a mixing bowl or cauldron. Dinos means "drinking cup," but in modern typology is used for the same shape as a lebes, that is, a bowl with a spherical body meant to sit on a stand, it has no feet. The Dinos Painter, one of the ancient Greek artists known for vase painting, takes his name from the type of vase characteristic of his work. Dinos were used for mixing water and wine, as it was considered rude to drink straight out of the goblet, at the time. Dinos of the Gorgon Painter Ancient Greek vase painting Pottery of ancient Greece
Pottery of ancient Greece
Ancient Greek pottery, due to its relative durability, comprises a large part of the archaeological record of ancient Greece, since there is so much of it, it has exerted a disproportionately large influence on our understanding of Greek society. The shards of pots discarded or buried in the 1st millennium BC are still the best guide available to understand the customary life and mind of the ancient Greeks. There were several vessels produced locally for everyday and kitchen use, yet finer pottery from regions such as Attica was imported by other civilizations throughout the Mediterranean, such as the Etruscans in Italy. There were various specific regional varieties, such as the South Italian ancient Greek pottery. Throughout these places, various types and shapes of vases were used. Not all were purely utilitarian; some were decorative and meant for elite consumption and domestic beautification as much as serving a storage or other function, such as the krater with its usual use in diluting wine.
Earlier Greek styles of pottery, called "Aegean" rather than "Ancient Greek", include Minoan pottery sophisticated by its final stages, Cycladic pottery, Minyan ware and Mycenaean pottery in the Bronze Age, followed by the cultural disruption of the Greek Dark Age. As the culture recovered Sub-Mycenaean pottery blended into the Protogeometric style, which begins Ancient Greek pottery proper; the rise of vase painting saw increasing decoration. Geometric art in Greek pottery was contiguous with the late Dark Age and early Archaic Greece, which saw the rise of the Orientalizing period; the pottery produced in Archaic and Classical Greece included at first black-figure pottery, yet other styles emerged such as red-figure pottery and the white ground technique. Styles such as West Slope Ware were characteristic of the subsequent Hellenistic period, which saw vase painting's decline. Interest in Greek art lagged behind the revival of classical scholarship during the Renaissance and revived in the academic circle round Nicholas Poussin in Rome in the 1630s.
Though modest collections of vases recovered from ancient tombs in Italy were made in the 15th and 16th centuries these were regarded as Etruscan. It is possible. Winckelmann's Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums of 1764 first refuted the Etruscan origin of what we now know to be Greek pottery yet Sir William Hamilton's two collections, one lost at sea the other now in the British Museum, were still published as "Etruscan vases". Much of the early study of Greek vases took the form of production of albums of the images they depict, however neither D'Hancarville's nor Tischbein's folios record the shapes or attempt to supply a date and are therefore unreliable as an archaeological record. Serious attempts at scholary study made steady progress over the 19th century starting with the founding of the Instituto di Corrispondenza in Rome in 1828, followed by Eduard Gerhard's pioneering study Auserlesene Griechische Vasenbilder, the establishment of the journal Archaeologische Zeitung in 1843 and the Ecole d'Athens 1846.
It was Gerhard who first outlined the chronology we now use, namely: Orientalizing, Black Figure, Red Figure, Polychromatic. It was Otto Jahn's 1854 catalogue Vasensammlung of the Pinakothek, that set the standard for the scientific description of Greek pottery, recording the shapes and inscriptions with a unseen fastidousness. Jahn's study was the standard textbook on the history and chronology of Greek pottery for many years, yet in common with Gerhard he dated the introduction of the red figure technique to a century than was in fact the case; this error was corrected when the Aρχαιολογικη'Εταιρεια undertook the excavation of the Acropolis in 1885 and discovered the so-called "Persian debris" of red figure pots destroyed by Persian invaders in 480 BC. With a more soundly established chronology it was possible for Adolf Furtwängler and his students in the 1880s and 90s to date the strata of his archaeological digs by the nature of the pottery found within them, a method of seriation Flinders Petrie was to apply to unpainted Egyptian pottery.
Where the 19th century was a period of discovery and the laying out of first principles, the 20th century has been one of consolidation and intellectual industry. Efforts to record and publish the totality of public collections of vases began with the creation of the Corpus vasorum antiquorum under Edmond Pottier and the Beazley archive of John Beazley. Beazley and others following him have studied fragments of Greek pottery in institutional collections, have attributed many painted pieces to individual artists. Scholars have called these fragments disjecta membra and in a number of instances have been able to identify fragments now in different collections that belong to the same vase; the names we use for Greek vase shapes are a matter of convention rather than historical fact, a few do illustrate their own use or are labeled with their original names, others are the result of early archaeologists attempt to reconcile the physical object with a known name from Greek literature – not always successfully.
To understand the relation
Melian Pithamphorae or Melian Amphorae are names for a type of large belly-handled amphorae, which were produced in the Archaic period in the Cyclades. On account of their shape and painted decoration in the Orientalising style, they are among the most famous Greek vases; the amphorae are dated to the seventh and early sixth centuries BC. They were used as grave markers with the same function as the grave statues and reliefs and were dedicated as cult objects in sanctuaries. With the increasing importance of sculpture in these roles, the production of these vases came to an end, their name is misleading - the adjective "Melian" is put in quotation marks. After Alexander Conze found the first three examples of this type on the Cycladian island of Melos in 1862, he named them Melische Thongefäße after their find spot; the name has been retained, although it has meanwhile been shown that production did not occur on Melos. A majority of researchers (such as Ingeborg Scheibler place their production on Paros, others on Naxos, others still think it possible that there were two varieties.
Dimitrios Papastamos and for a long time John Boardman, while not denying a Parian origin, supported the view that some had a Melian origin. The longtime excavator of Paros, Otto Rubensohn, denied that there were any useful clay deposits on the island. Many scholars believe. To this day only a comparative few of these vases are known. Despite the small number of examples, their geographical range is wider than that of other Cycladian pottery, their export stretches beyond the Cyclades to the Parian colony of Thasos, where imitations of the type have been found, to North Africa. In Delos some fragments have been found of vases which were destroyed before the cleansing of the island in 426 BC; the amphorae are up to 107 centimetres high and come in two forms: one older and somewhat stouter and another and somewhat slenderer. The construction was divided into three parts: the body, the neck which in the standard form of the amphora is as wide as the neck, the high conical foot; the foot has holes to let out steam during the firing process at regular intervals.
The pots stand within the tradition of the older cycladian pottery, such as the early Cycladian taper necked vessels and the Geometric-Theran amphorae of the linear island style. Unlike these early forms, the pithamphorae seem to be organic in construction; the belly-handles on the sides are arranged as horizontal double handles. They can contribute an additional optical effect through their decoration. On one type they can convey the impression of goats' horns, so that the amphora looks like a goat's head with broad horns. On a second variety eyes are drawn under the handles. All the amphorae have a central image on the body, depicting animals, gods and monsters. There is figural decoration on the neck, less on the foot. With a few exceptions, the neck is or decorated with metopes, which take up the whole height of the neck; the main image occupies the upper half of the body with the lower half of the body filled with two bands of spiral or volute patterns. Between the vents, the foot is decorated with double volutes, bordered above and below by geometric bands.
An aureola follows as a conclusion. The figural images are quite graceful and elegant. Late examples depict figures in the Black figure style and others imitate the late animal frieze style. Dimitrios Papastamos. Melische Amphoren. Aschendorff, Münster 1970. Werner Ekschmitt. Kunst und Kultur der Kykladen. Volume 2: Geometrische und Archaische Zeit. von Zabern, Mainz 1986, ISBN 3-8053-0900-7, pp. 136–145, plates 40–43 Ingeborg Scheibler. Griechische Töpferkunst. Herstellung, Handel und Gebrauch der antiken Tongefäße. C. H. Beck, München 1995, ISBN 3-406-39307-1, p. 165. John Boardman. Early Greek Vase Painting. 11th – 6th Century BC. A Handbook. Thames and Hudson, London 1998, ISBN 0-500-20309-1, pp. 111–112. Photeini Zapheiropoulou. Paros. Archaeological Receipts Fund, Athens 1998, ISBN 960-214-902-7, pp. 38–39. Thomas Mannack. Griechische Vasenmalerei. Eine Einführung. Theiss, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-8062-1743-2, pp. 89–90
Tyrrhenian amphorae are a specific shape of Attic black-figure neck amphorae. Tyrrhenian amphorae were only produced during a short period, about 565 to 550 BC, they are ovoid in bear striking decorations. The handle is decorated with a lotus-palmette cross or vegetal tendrils, it always terminates in a red-painted ridge. The vase body is painted with several friezes; the uppermost of these, on the shoulder, is especially notable. It contains mythological scenes, but the first erotic motifs in Attic vase painting occur here. Unique motifs include the sacrifice of Polyxene; the figures are explained by added inscriptions. The other friezes two to three in number, are decorated with animals. At times, a frieze is replaced with a vegetal band; the animal friezes and use of colour resemble Corinthian vase painting. It is that the Attic vase painters copied Corinthian examples, so as to improve their products’ attractivity on the Etruscan markets. Thus, the Athenian producers entered direct competition with the market leader, Corinth, by producing features popular in Etruria, such as neck amphorae and colourful decoration.
Corinth only produced few nack amphora. Thus, the Athenians deliberately served a niche market; the Etruscans themselves produced similar vases. The large majority of the nearly 200 Tyrrhenian amphorae now known were found in Etruria. Early artists to paints such vases include the Castellani Painter and the Goltyr Painter ones the Prometheus Painter and the Kyllenios Painter; the Tyrrhenian Group was named after this type of vase. In his 1983 pape'’On the Dating of the Tyrrhenian Group’’, the British archaeologist Tom Carpenter suggested, on the basis of iconographic and epigraphic considerations, that the vases were produced than assumed, namely between 550 and 530 BC. Further, he raised the possibility that they were produced outside Athens in northern Attica or outside Attica. Thomas Mannack: Griechische Vasenmalerei. Eine Einführung, Stuttgart 2002, p. 117f. ISBN 3-8062-1743-2 Media related to Tyrrhenic amphoras at Wikimedia Commons
Neck Amphora by Exekias (Berlin F 1720)
The Neck Amphora by Exekias ia a neck amphora in the black figure style by the Attic vase painter and potter Exekias. It is found in the possession of the Antikensammlung Berlin under the inventory number F 1720 and is on display in the Altes Museum, it depicts Herakles' battle with the sons of Theseus on the other. The amphora could only be restored for the first time a hundred and fifty years after its original discovery due to negligence and political difficulties; the clay neck amphora is 40.5 cm high. It is dated to around 545/0 BC and is executed in the black figure style, still common at the time; the painter Exekias was a master of this style. He added his own innovations and modifications which appear in part in this amphora; the vase is fragmentary. Conspicuous absences include the loss of one of the two handles, a pair of sherds from the body of the vase; the surviving pieces are in good condition. Both sides of the amphora's belly are framed above and below by chains of painted and stylisted lotus flowers and buds.
The area around the handles is decorated with palmettes. The scenes on each side are of similar size and are not divided into a front main image and a reversed opposite on the reverse as in times. On the edge of the mouth there is a signature of Exekias, the most well-known Attic vase painter and potter, which reads ΕΞΣΕΚΙΑΣ ΕΓΡΑΦΣΕ ΚΑ ΠΟΕΣΕ ΜΕ, "Exekias painted and made me." On one side the battle between Herakles and the Nemean Lion is depicted – one of the twelve tasks which the son of Zeus had to perform in the service of King Eurystheus. Herakles strangles the lion, whose skin could not be wounded, while his brother Iolaos and the goddess Athena look on, serving to frame the scene; the naked Herakles has his left arm on the neck of the lion and holds the paw of the lion in his right hand. The lion is attempting to free itself from the hero's grip. Many details are indicated in red paint, like Iolaos' beard, Athena's shield and details of the lion's mane. On the other side of the vase is a depiction of the two sons of Theseus and Demophon with their horses, which are named by inscriptions as Kalliphora and Phalios.
Between the two horses, which are led to the right by their masters, is a vertical Kalos inscription, reading ΟΝΕΤΟΡΙΔΕΣ ΚΑΛΟΣ, "Onetorides is gorgeous". Both men carry two spears over their shoulders; the shields are detailed in white paint. Their helmets have high plumes painted in red; the sons of Theseus are departing to fight in the Trojan War. The scenes can be understood as combining two Greek regions which interacted with each other: Herakles is the hero of the Peloponnese, while Theseus' sons represent the Athenians' conception of themselves; this vase marks the first appearance of the sons of Theseus in Attic art. The scene from the outbreak of the Trojan War stresses increasing Athenian self-importance; the participation of their heroes in the legendary Trojan War symbolically placed Athens on the same level as the traditionally important city-states of the Peloponnese, including the leading power of the time, Sparta. In subsequent Athenian art, the sons of Theseus were symbols of the new self-consciousness of the Athenian aristocracy.
In addition to the art historical significance of the vase, the fate of the amphora and its individual sherds since its discovery is of archaeological-historical significance. The vase was found in the Etruscan necropolis of Ponte dell' Abbadia near Vulci. In Athens, vases were produced for export to Etruria, where they were used as grave goods. Thus, several works of Exekias have been found in Etruscan cemeteries; when the amphora was discovered in one of the Etruscan graves at Vulci, under excavation from 1828, it was broken and was no longer complete. The sherds that were discovered were not carefully collected; the reconstruction of the vase from its sherds was, by modern standards, faulty. As was common in the mid-nineteenth century, missing pieces were replaced and repainted to create the appearance of a complete work. After the restoration, the amphora came into the possession of the painter Eduard Magnus; the sale of smaller archaeological discoveries was common at the time when no other, more expensive and higher valued artworks could be found.
Together with the painter's other pieces, the amphora soon entered the newly founded Museum at Lustgarten, in 1831. It stayed, in the semi-basement of the museum. According to Jakob Andreas Konrad Levezow's 1834 exhibition catalogue, the vase stood on one of the glass tables placed in a prominent position; when the portable art collection was transferred to the Neue Galerie New York, Exekias' Amphora was taken there as well. In the 1920s, the amphoras had to be restored for reasons. In the process, the retouching and additions from the original restoration were removed; the additions were now made distinct from the original sherds. Due to the war, the amphora was stored in box 167 in the Zoobunker. In 1945 the box was taken to the Soviet Union as booty; as part of the return of art to the DDR, the amphora was brought back to the Antikensammlung Berlin in 1958, now divided between East and West Berlin. The Exekian Neck Amphora was one of the few vases which came into the possession of the East Berlin Pergamonmuseum since the majority of the vases had been kept in the Magazin before the war and were hence s