Ancient Greek Ceramics

Attic lekythos (510 BC)
Attic lekythos (510 BC)
Pitcher (380 BC)
Pitcher (380 BC)

During the Archaic period (700-480 BC), pottery was decorated in black and red by firing different clays together (not by painting). Up to about 530BC, the decoration was done in black on a red background; after 530 BC, the decoration was done in red on a black background. The heads of all figures on these pots are drawn at the same level.

From the middle of the fifth century BC, a technique was developed for producing painted purple, brown and red characters in white. This was less durable and, so, was mainly used on ritual vessels.

From this time also, an attempt was made to indicate depth by showing figures raised above the ground but there was no use of size for perspective.

 

Ancient Greek Sculpture

Statue of Biton (ca 580 BC)
Statue of Biton (ca 580 BC)
Statue of Hermes (2nd century BC)
Statue of Hermes (2nd century BC)

Greek sculpture of the Archaic period (700 – 480 B.C.) resembles Egyptian in the rigid frontal pose. But, without the Egyptian concern for permanence, the stone block is missing – and the figure is usually nude.

Classical Greek sculpture (480 – 323 B.C.) was concerned mainly with proportion and expressing an ideal. All parts of the figure are composed to achieve the most variety within a complete whole.

During the late Classical and Hellenistic periods (323 – 30 B.C.) figures became increasingly human and less formal.

 

Ancient Rome

Augustus of Prima Porta (1st century AD)
Augustus of Prima Porta (1st century AD)

The desire for literalness, together with the custom of keeping in the home the “imagines” of ancestors (usually in wax), influenced Roman sculptors to emphasise individual traits almost to the point of caricature.

During the Imperial period, beginning with Augustus (27 B.C.), there was a conscious attempt to bring about a cultural renewal based on Greek ideals.

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