Greek vase paintings like the one seen here are truly fine examples of ancient Greek craftsmanship. The krater above has been painted using black figure style over a yellow colored background, and shows Andromache, the wife of Hector who is depicted taking leave from her with horses trotting at the back. Paris, the brother of Hector is also seen taking leave from his wife-Helen, and wears winged boots.
Vase paintings depicting sirens have always featured in ancient Greek art. We too have showcased one dating back to 480-470 BC in which a scene from Homer’s Odyssey is depicted and shows a strapped Odysseus trying to save himself and his crew from listening to the dangerous song of the sirens of the sea. The scene is painted over a stamnos and bears the red figure style. The sea is painted using black outlines in wavy patterns, while the figures of sirens, Odysseus and men are painted using red. The tension on Odysseus’s face is also captured brilliantly and gives us a hint of his turmoil at that time. The scene’s panel is painted with meanders, chequers, tongues and met patterns.
The Greek pottery of Mycenaean civilization dated back to 1550-1050 BCE, and featured new shapes and designs that were not in use before. It became unique and distinct in its own way. The vase painting shown above looks quite different from the other pottery decorations as it features bodies of bull and bird divided into sections. The sections are seen decorated with different patterns like scales, chevrons, dots as well as wavy lines. The scenes are paneled using black and brown lines over a white background.
14. Red figure vase painting showing Hermes and satyr
Greek vase paintings with red figure style were very popular and developed by the Phiale painters. This painting on an amphora bears a glossy black background and shows Hermes holding a kantharos and jug in both hands. A satyr called Oreimachos is also painted and shown holding a plectrum and barbiton. Both the bodies are overlapping, an example of skilled craftsmanship. There is a fawn painted as well. The whole painting is minimalist and features a floral design towards the neck of the amphora and an unusual pattern at the bottom.
Greek vase patterns differed widely, and kept evolving throughout ages. The painting shown above is Proto-Attic pottery painting that dates back to 600 BCE. This style of painting was developed during the ‘Orientalizing’ Period, and comprised of floral motifs. The amphora’s neck features the blinding scene of Polyphemus, the giant son of Poseidon and Thoosa, while the belly depicts Perseus and Gorgons. The gigantic Polyphemus is shown sitting drunk and his body is painted in black. Odysseus is shown driving a wooden stake into the giant’s eye. Odysseus’s body is not painted in black as if to demarcate between him and the rest of the men.
The above showcased Greek vase paintings are testimonies of exemplary craftsmanship of the ancient Greek painters that contributed mightily towards development of many distinctive styles of paintings. All these are not merely beautiful but are treasures to be cherished forever.