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Greek Art – Vase-Painting

6. Pots and Statues

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the extent to which Greek vase painting undergoes the same ‘revolution’ that takes place in freestanding sculpture in this period, focusing in particular: (i) the transformation in freestanding sculpture from the New York Kouros (590-80 BC) to Myon’s Diskobolos and Polykleitos’ Doryphoros (both mid-5th century BC); and (ii) the transformation in vase-painting from the beginning of the seventh century to the end of the fifth century BC, in particular its greater focus on what people are thinking as opposed to what they are doing.

Featured artworks:

Freestanding sculpture:
– The New York Kouros, c. 590-80 BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art 32.11.1
– The Parthenon Sculptures, 438-32 BC. British Museum 1816,0610.42
– Kleobis and Biton, c. 580 BC. Archaeological Museum of Delphi 467, 1524
– The Anavyssos Kouros, c. 530 BC. National Archaeological Museum of Athens 3851
– Aristodikos Kouros, c. 500-490 BC. National Archaeological Museum, Athens 3938
– Roman marble copy of the Diskobolos by Myron, Greek original c. 450 BC, this copy 2nd century AD. British Museum 1805,0703.43
– Roman marble copy of the Doryphoros by Polykleitos, Greek original c. 440 BC, this copy 120-50 BC. Minneapolis Institute of Art 86.6
– The Kritios Boy, c. 485-80 BC. Acropolis Museum, Athens 698

– Dinos of the Gorgon Painter, c. 580 BC. Louvre E 874
– The Eleusis Amphora, c. 675-50 BC. Archaeological Museum of Eleusis 2630
– Kylix attributed to the Codrus Painter, c. 430-25 BC. British Museum 1869.0205.3
– The François Vase, mid 6th century. Florence, Museo Archeologico Nazionale 4209
– Amphora attributed to the Andokides Painter, c. 525 BC. Antikensammlung, Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg F2159
– Suicide of Ajax Vase, c. 575-25 BC. Musee Communale, Boulogne 558

Architectural sculpture:
– Figure E11 (Dying Warrior) from the East Pediment of the Temple of Aphaia in Aigina, c. 490-80 BC. Glyptothek, Munich
– Figure N (Seer) from the East Pediment of the Temple of Zeus, Olympia, c. 460 BC. Olympia Archaeological Museum


In this course, Professor Robin Osborne (University of Cambridge) explores vase-painting in the Greek world from the eighth century to the middle of the fifth century BC, tracing a narrative that includes each of the vases on the OCR A Level Classical Civilization specification (H408), as well as several that are not on the specification. In the first module, we concentrate on the Dinos of the Gorgon Painter, and think about the ways it might be seen as a ‘transitional’ piece. In the second module, we look at the Sophilos Dinos and the François Vase, before turning in the third module to the works of Exekias and the Amasis Painter. In the fourth module, we think about the transition to the red-figure technique and the group of painters known as the Pioneers, before turning in the fifth module to trace the development of the red-figure style into the mid-5th century BC, from the densely-packed arrangements of the Kleophrades Painter to the minimalism of the Berlin Painter and beyond. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about the development of Greek art more generally in this period and ask whether Greek vase-painting undergoes a comparable ‘revolution’ to that seen in freestanding sculpture.

Note on referencing: pots are cited using their conventional name if applicable (e.g. ‘The Eleusis Amphora’) or (if not) their shape and the name of the painter of not (e.g. ‘Kylix attributed to the Berlin Painter’). We have also included details of estimated production date and the museum/collection in which the pot can currently be found (e.g. Dinos of the Gorgon Painter, c. 580 BC. Louvre E 874). Further details which might be of interest (e.g. height and diameter, painting style, etc.) can be found on museum websites.


Robin Osborne is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge and of the British Academy. He works on Greek History (political, social, economic, cultural) and Greek Archaeology (field archaeology and art history) between 1000 B.C. and 200 B.C, and has published extensively across a range of topics.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Osborne, R. (2021, February 02). Greek Art – Vase-Painting - Pots and Statues [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Osborne, R. "Greek Art – Vase-Painting – Pots and Statues." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 02 Feb 2021,