Ancient Greek Pottery
• All definitions and imagery
are to be recorded in your
• Imagery shown is to help you plan out
your design for your pot. Use these
historical references as inspiration!
Protogeometric 1000-900 B.C.:
• Pots were decorated with black bands,
wavy lines and simple geometric designs,
• Concentric circles and half-circles drawn
with a compass and multiple brushes
• Careful attention was given to the
relationship between the decoration and
the shape of the pot.
Geometric 900-700 B.C
• An increasing amount of angled shapes
cover a larger portion of the pot
• Simple figures of animals and human
beings - reduced to geometric forms -
appear on later examples
• Vessels were used as grave markers and
decorated with references to funeral
Orientalizing 700-600 B.C
• The style derives its name from Greek contacts
with the older civilizations of the Near East
• It is characterized by the use of decorative
animal and floral forms; this period shows
experiments with the black-figure technique and
with polychrome (multi-colored) decoration
• Experiments with narrative images of myths and
Black Figure technique
• 700 B.C. in Corinth
• Inspired by carved ivories and engraved metals
imported from the Near East.
• Figures appeared, after the firing of the pot, as
black silhouettes against the background of the
light red or yellowish clay of the pot.
• Within the black figures, incised lines revealed
the red clay beneath, allowing the artist to trace
the inner details of the figure.
Black Figure technique, continued
• Other colors - purple, white and yellow - were
sometimes added for highlighting.
• This technique was adopted in other Greek
• Athenian ware was characterized by its shiny
gloss and the brighter orange color of the clay.
In the decoration of the pots, Athenian painters
placed greater emphasis on human figures and
Red Figure technique
• Invented in Athens c. 530 B.C.
• The figures remained in the orange-red color of
the clay, and the surrounding background was
turned to black by the firing of the pot.
• The method of detailing the figures was changed
dramatically. Instead of using a sharp tool to
incise lines, the painters used a fine brush, pen
or reed to apply lines of purplish, red and brown
color for the inner details of the figures.
Red Figure technique, continued
• The technique may have been inspired by
low-relief sculptures in which marble
figures were highlighted against dark blue
painted backgrounds. Some scholars
have compared both techniques to inlaid
gold and silver vessels and tableware.
Types of Greek Pottery
• amphora: a tall, storage jar for oil, wine,
olives, dry goods or grain
• hydria : large, three-handled jar for
carrying water: one handle was used for
pouring, two handles for lifting
Types of Greek Pottery
• krater : a large bowl for the mixing of wine
and water at the symposium or banquet
• kylix: a shallow, circular, two-handled
drinking cup - resembling a plate - on a
• oinochoe: a small pitcher used for pouring
wine into the cups
• What shape vessel do you want to build?
(refer to your “Common Shapes” handout)
• Do you want to replicate red or black
• What patterns will you use around the
neck and the foot of your vessel?
(Protogeometric, Geometric, or Orientalized)
Your Sketchbook Assignment
• Develop a plan for both front and back of
your Greek Vessel.
• What story will you be telling through your
vessel? This can be an original story, a
biographical story, or your version of an
existing story (please, no cartoon or
fictional characters in their original style)
Did you miss part of this
• Click on “teaching” in upper right hand
• Scroll down to find the Greek Vessel