Ubiquity of pottery

Black vase

The so-called 'Nolan' amphora shape which was popular with the Berlin painter (fl. 500-480 BCE).


Greek vase display

(Source: University of Stellensbosch)

The majority of Greek vases were painted all in black, sometimes with the simplest of designs, or left totally undecorated, reflecting their primarily utilitarian function (see picture at right).

Nonetheless, visitors to the great museums of the world might be forgiven for being overwhelmed by the seemingly endless displays of painted Greek vases (see display far right).

Approximately 100,000 examples of such vases exist. These are subject to great variety in craftsmanship, form, and design. Indeed some of the artwork is of such high quality that it is not always apparent whether there was a division between art and function in these modest declarations of wealth. This study guide introduces you to the rich world of Greek vase painting, with a focus on the later Archaic and Classical Greek periods (black and red figure vases).

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