Sunday, May 23, 2010

Greek Vases

While I was visiting New York I had a chance to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Here are some pictures i was able to get of some of the magnificent painted Greek vases in their collection.

Greek Vase

The above vase is from the Geometric period of Greek vase making, c. 900 - 700 B.C.E.

Greek Vase

The above vase is a Red Figure vase dating from c. 490 B.C.E., and apparently depicting the murder of Clytemnestra by her son Orestes, from the myth of the House of Atreus.

Greek Vase

A Red Figure depiction of a Sculpter sculpting a statute of a God, dated to c. 480 B.C.E.

Greek Vase

A Black Figure vase depicting the God Dionysus, the man with the long beard, drinking wine and celebrating with Satyrs, and followers the joy brought by wine. The vase is dated to c. 550 b.C.E.

Greek Vase

A Black figure vase depicting the Goddess Athena, dated to c. 560 B.C.E.

As mentioned above the so called Geometric style flourished from 900 - 700 B.C.E. This style was characterized by roughness, a certain crudeness but also by great vigor. Vases in this style were made throughout the Greek world during this time period.

About 700 B.C.E., there emerged the Black Figure style, apparently in Corinth, this was characterized by far greater refinement and polish, much greater realism its chief subjects were mythology and matters of everyday life. It flourished 700 - 530 B.C.E.

Strangely enough Black Figure vase manufacture / creation was confined to Corinth and Athens. Although other Greek cities continued to manufacture local utilitarian pottery, the market for fine ware was almost entirely captured by Black Figure pottery from Athens and Corinth. Although Black Figure pottery seems to have started in Corinth it spread to Athens and by 600 B.C.E. Corinthian Black Figure pottery was in serious decline and Athens was predominate in the market. Corinthian fine pottery manufacture seems to have disappeared by 550 B.C.E, leaving Athens alone in the manufacture of fine Greek pottery.

In about 530 B.C.E. Athenian pot makers and painters perfected Red Figure pottery, the manufacture of which was almost entirely confined to Athens. The height of this pottery was 530-450 B.C.E. After 400 B.C.E., the Red Figure pottery went into decline, in both quality and quantity. It appears that by 200 B.C.E., manufacture had largely ended at Athens.1

*Note The dates are the photos are wrong. I was unable to correct this problem with my camera. The actual date the photos were taken is May 5, 2010.

1. For more information on Greek vases see Murray, Oswyn, Early Greece, Fontana Books, London, 1980. pp. 36-38, 289-290, Finley, M. I., The Ancient Greeks, Penguin Books, London, 1963, pp. 166-169, Davies, J. K., Democracy and Classical Greece, Second Edition, Fontana Books, London, 1993, pp. 156-157.

Pierre Cloutier

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