Ancient Greeks were experts in pottery making and used different types of potteries like krater, amphora, pilike, hydria, pyxis, dinos and pithos for storing wine as well as oil. Various archaeological digs conducted over the years have helped historians unearth and discover Greek vases dating back to 1st and 2nd century BC. And one common feature seen on all these vases is that they are painted beautifully. Today, we will discuss about the 15 most beautiful Greek vase paintings that will cover designs from Attica, Corinth, and will also showcase Greek pottery designs like red figure, black figure, Meander and Geometric styles.
Geometric styled Greek pottery started around 900 BC at Athens, the hub of Greek culture. Vases decorated as per geometric style often depicted horizontal lines painted with patterns and showed designs of triangles, circles and arcs. Some new styles were also added once the Proto Geometric designs faded and these included the swastika and meander. The urn in the image bears many kinds of geometric designs, starting from its neck and proceeding all the way down to the main body. The horizontal bands are filled up with designs of circles, triangles, and meanders.
Vase paintings with meanders usually boasted of a decorative border painted from a continuous line. A classic example of this style of painting is the Chalice from Chios dating back to 600 BC. It has an ornamental frieze which depicts wild goats walking in succession of each other. The painting also incorporates other motifs like hook meanders and a false meander. The meanders are painted in a row with six horizontal bars.
Black figure Greek vase paintings were common in Greece between the 7th and 5th century BC. The amphora in the image bears a black figure design showing Achilles slaying the Amazon Queen Penthesilea. He is depicted as fully armed and bearded. His tresses are long and he is shown plunging a spear into the queen’s heart, while balancing on one knee. Penthesilea is depicted wearing a short diapered chiton and a pardalis or skin of a leopard. She is carrying a sword and a shield. Both the subjects are shown as if they are having a moment of ‘direct eye contact’ with each other.
4. Terracotta hydria (water jar) black figure painting
Greek vase patterns differentiated widely with some adopting the red figure style, while others opted for black figure or geometric styles. The black figure style originated in Attica and was very popular between the 7th and 5th century BC. The Archaic painting shown in the image is a black figure style and was decorated on a hydria or water jar made of terracotta. The figures of women are painted in black over a surface of reddish orange. The scene depicted here is of a fountain house where women have gathered for filling up their jars while engaging in chit chat.
The amphora shown in the image features black figure style of painting that was painted by the famous painter of Athens named Exekias. The scene involves Achilles and Ajax sitting on either sides, over blocks and stooping over to play a game. Both the men are shown holding spears while Achilles is depicted wearing a helmet. The figures are painted in black over a surface that appears to be yellow. The neck of the amphora is painted in black too with side handles bearing a beautiful black design.