A Potted History: Greek Vases

In this lecture we track the development of Greek vase painting from stick-figures and geometric patterns in C8th BC to  what could be called proto-Renaissance flowing styles achieved by c.500 BC. We’ll see how and why the artists went from black-figure to red-figure painting.

We know extremely little about individual painters  and, indeed, many of their names were given to them centuries later, linked to particular vases or potters. What may seem strange to us is that the potter was more famous, and perhaps held in higher esteem, than the painter who brought the pot to life.

A number of vases were placed in tombs which has helped to preserve them and thousands of these beautiful objects survive in a variety of shapes (depending on their final use). That means that there’s also a huge range of subjects painted on the vases, so we’re able to see both heroic characters and pathos, revenge and reward, as well as numerous charming scenes of everyday life.