Greece, Archaic Pottery (800-480 B.C.)
Greek pottery during this period was treasured throughout the Mediterranean. Remnants of Greek vases have been found in Africa, Spain, France, Southern Russia, and all over Asia Minor. It was used to store oil,
wine, or grain.
Black figure pottery
During the seventh and very early sixth century, Corinth was the dominant commercial polis (city-state). Corinthian vases feature oriental
details, many floral designs, a profusion of animals and monsters. People were both outlined and drawn in silhouette. Corinthian shapes were inventive and elegant.
Olpe, wine pitcher, ca. 6th century B.C.; Corinthian, slip-painted earthenware; 17 x 8 7/8 inches; Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
In about 600 B.C. Athens (Attica) became the most powerful Greek state. In their pottery, people were drawn in silhouette with incised details, in the past they were only outlined on pottery. White and red start
to be used as accent colors in pottery. The compositions become smaller and the narratives are entirely from myth or everyday life: monsters rarely make an appearance in Greek pottery after this time.
Hoplite (soldier) on horse wearing helmut and greaves; ca. 560 B.C., 35 cm., Sotheby's London, Lot 97, Thursday, 25 October 2007; price realized: $111,562.
Red figure pottery
The great innovator of red figure pottery is considered to be the Athenian known as the Andokides painter, who started using the technique in approximately
530 B.C. The red clay unpainted areas were left as the design element, accented by the shiny black glaze. In previous times, other designs were scratched onto the surface. Now they were painted on. The red figure
art reached its height with the Euphronius potter and vase painter, who worked in the late sixth century. Some of the other prominent potters and vase painters were: Epiktetos, Euthrymides, the Panaitios Painter,
the Brygos Painter, and Makron.
Terracotta calyx-krater (bowl for mixing wine and water), ca. 515 B.C.; Signed by Euxitheos, as potter; by Euphronios, as painter; Attic; Terracotta; 45.7 cm; Formerly lent by the Republic of Italy (L.2006.10) to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.
The Greek, during later part of the Archaic period and beginning of the Classical period, started making objects out of marble that they used as they did
ordinary clay pottery. The use of marble in Greece was known in the seventh century, but became common by the sixth century B.C. In the early fifth century, when this marble pyxis may have been crafted,
the Athenians were just starting to use the near-by quarries at Mt. Pentelikon.
Greek marble pyxis, early Fifth century B.C., with knobbed cover. 24.1 cm., Christies London, 1990. The purpose of the pyxis was to hold small objects, mostly toiletries for women.