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Page history last edited by egwolf@... 13 years, 5 months ago

Your names here: Elliott & Thomas 

Dionysus and satyrs, amphora painted in the black-figure style by the Amasis Painter, c. 540 …[Credits : Courtesy of the Antikenmuseum, Basel, Switz.; photograph, Colorphoto Hans Hinz][Dionysus and satyrs, amphora painted in the black-figure style by the Amasis Painter, c. 540 bc; in the Antikenmuseum, Basel, Switzerland.]


Black Figure Pottery


       The Corinthians originally used black-figure pottery to depict animal friezes until the mid-6th century B.C., when the Athenian painters developed a sophisticated style of narrative decoration depicting subjects such as battle scenes, mythical beings and legendary episodes. Only a few painters are known by name, but many pieces of black-figure pottery are grouped together by style and looks. The old pottery isn't very good because of the lack of tools. Black Figure pottery was the primary form of Greek vase painting in the sixth century. The painter would use a miture of clay and water to sillouette figures onto the unpainted background of the vase. The vases usually have scenes involving important people or animals for example there is a vase that depicts Ajax preparing his sword for his own suicide.  (Stokstad 100)

 [Ajax preparing his suicide, 540 BCE. Chateau Musee, Boulogne-sur-Mer, France]


     The Nessos painter was one of the first to use black figure pottery in Athens.  With the black figure style came the animal frieze style of Corinth. Black-figure pottery is an ancient greek way of doing pottery in which black figures appear on a red back round. It originated in Corinth during the late 7th century BC. It was introduced into Attica about a generation later. Other known black-figure pottery appeared in Sparta, Athens, and eastern greece. The technique flourished until being almost completely replaced by red-figure pottery in 530 BC.  [Stokstad 101]


     Black figure pottery is all done with one type of clay, this clay is found near Athens, this clay turns black when it is wet and it does this because it has iron in it. If you fire this clay in an oven that has vents so oxygen can get in the clay will turn red. It will turn red because the oxygen will mix with the iron and rust. If you have a closed oven, where no air can get in the clay will stay black. This means that you can have black or red clay. At the beginning the pottery makers made the pots with one mythical scene on it. Slowly the scenes grew and took over the pot. Also in the beginning the figures were made looking like outlines, later the Athenian potters began to paint people in silhouette. [http://www.historyforkids.org/learn/greeks/art/pottery/blackfigure.htm] 


  Red Figure Pottery


       Red figure pottery which came into play after black figure pottery was a similar idea but reversed. Instead of having black figures on a red background they had red figures over a black background. The technique used to make red figure pottery was very similar to the one used to make black figure pottery. The first red figure vases were found around 530 BC. 

 [Apollo and Artemis killing the children of Niobe, red-figure calyx krater by the Niobid Painter, c. 455–450 bc; in the Louvre, Paris.]



1.       1. Stokstad, Marilyn Art: A Brief History

                                New Jersey: Pearson 2007

2. Boardman, John Greek Art

New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996

3. Copyright 1998-2007 Dr. Karen Carr, Associate Professor of History, Portland State University. This page last updated Friday, Nov 10, 2006


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