Humanities › History & Culture Red-Figure Pottery in Greek Art Share Flipboard Email Print History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Greece Figures & Events Ancient Languages Egypt Asia Rome Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated October 15, 2018 Introduction to Red-Figure Pottery Panathenaic prize amphora. Pancratists, by the Berlin painter. 490 B.C. Staatliche Museen, Berlin. Black Figure. [www.flickr.com/photos/pankration/46308484/]Pankration Research Institute Near the end of the sixth century B.C., a revolution took place in vase painting techniques in Athens. Instead of painting the figures black (see accompanying photo of pancratists) on orange-red clay, the new vase painters left the figures red and painted the background around the red figures black. Where black-figure artists engraved details through the black to reveal the underlying base reddish color (see the lines delineating muscles in the pancratists photo), this technique would serve no purpose on red figures on pottery, since the underlying material was identically reddish-colored clay. Instead, artists using the new style enhanced their figures with black, white, or truly red lines. Named for the basic color of the figures, this form of pottery is called red-figure. The style of painting continued to evolve. Euphronios is one of the most important of the painters from the early red-figure period. Simple style came first, often focusing on Dionysus. It grew more complex as it became more widely used, with techniques spreading throughout the Greek world. Tip: Of the two, black-figure came first, but if you're looking at a large collection at a museum, it's easy to forget. Remember that whatever color the vase appears, it's still clay, and therefore reddish: clay=red. It is more obvious to paint black figures on a red substrate than it is to paint negative space, so the red figures are more evolved. I usually forget, anyway, so I just check the dates of a couple, and go from there. For more information, see: "Attic Red-Figured and White-Ground Pottery," Mary B. Moore. The Athenian Agora, Vol. 30 (1997). Berlin Painter Dionysus holding a cup. Red-figure Amphora, by the Berlin Painter, c. 490-480 B.C. Bibi Saint-Pol, Wikipedia Named the Berlin Painter (c. 500-475 B.C.) for the identification of an amphora in a Berlin antique collection (Antikensammlung Berlin), he was one of the early or pioneer, influential red-figure vase painters. The Berlin Painter painted more than 200 vases, often focusing on single figures, from daily life or mythology, like this amphora of Dionysus holding a kantharos (drinking cup) on a glossy black background. He also painted Panathenaic amphorae (like the previous picture). The Berlin Painter eliminated the bands of patterns allowing more room for focus on the important painted figure. Pottery by the Berlin Painter has been found in Magna Graecia. Source: archaeological-artifacts.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_berlin_painter "Suite 101 The Berlin Painter" Euphronios Painter Satyr pursues a maenad, tondo of a red-figure Attic cup, c. 510 BC-500 B.C. Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons Euphronios (c.520-470 B.C.), like the Berlin Painter, was one of the Athenian pioneers of red-figure painting. Euphronios was also a potter. He signed his name on 18 vases, 12 times as potter and 6 as painter. Euphronios used techniques of foreshortening and overlapping to show the third dimension. He painted scenes from daily life and mythology. In this photo of a tondo (circular painting) at the Louvre, a satyr pursues a maenad. Source: Getty Museum Pan Painter Idas and Marpessa are separated by Zeus. Attic red-figure psykter, c. 480 B.C., by the Pan Painter. Public Domain. Courtesy of Bibi Saint-Pol at Wikipedia The Attic Pan Painter (c.480–c.450 B.C.) earned his name from a krater (mixing bowl, used for wine and water) on which Pan pursues a shepherd. This photo shows a section from the Pan Painter's psykter (vase for cooling wine) showing the right part of the main scene of the rape of Marpessa, with Zeus, Marpessa, and Idas visible. The pottery is at the Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich, Germany. The Pan Painter's style is described as mannerist. Source: www.beazley.ox.ac.uk/pottery/painters/keypieces/redfigure/pan.htm The Beazley Archive Apulian Eumenides Painter Apulian red-figure bell-krater, from 380-370 B.C., by the Eumenides Painter, showing Clytemnestra trying to awaken the Erinyes, at the Louvre. Public Domain. Courtesy of Bibi Saint-Pol at Wikipedia Commons. Pottery painters in Greek-colonized southern Italy followed the red-figure Attic pottery model and expanded on it, beginning in the mid-fifth century B.C. The "Eumenides Painter" was so named because of his topic, the Oresteia. This is a photo of a red-figure bell krater (380-370), showing Clytemnestra trying to awaken the Erinyes. A bell krater is one of the forms of the krater, a pottery vessel with glazed interior, used for mixing wine and water. Besides the bell-shape, there are column, calyx, and volute kraters. This bell krater is at the Louvre.