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The Berlin Painter

VIEWS: 190 PAGES: 22


White text: p.54-55
Black text: p.69-73
The Berlin Painter
  The Berlin Painter never signed his
  name. He is named after an amphora
  which was found in Berlin.
  He worked in Athens around 500 BC.
  Along with the Kleophrades Painter he
  was one of the most important Red-
  Figure artists of the period.
  His vases show a high degree of artistic
  skill. His figures are delicate and
Shape: Volute
Function: mixing
  wine and water.
Painter: Berlin
Potter: unknown
Technique: red
Date: c.500 - 480

             Height: 65 cm
  The figures have their names painted
  beside them.
  Neither the potter nor the painter signed
  their names.
Decoration Overview

One of the artist’s favourite compositions was spotlighting a single figure against a black
background with no framing panel. In this way they appear light and graceful, as if floating
on the vase.
There is no decoration on the body of the vase, except for a coating of shiny black glaze
and a band of stylised rays at the base of the belly.
Decoration Overview
 This vase (like the Kleophrades Painter’s
 Hydria) is a reversal of the major vase
 decorating trend – no decoration on the
 body, and all the action around the neck.
 The Berlin Painter has placed all the
 painted detail on the neck and handles
 of the vase to emphasise its elegant
 volute shape.
 The scenes depicted are framed by a
 large frieze of mirrored lotus and
 palmettes and a band of stylised
Each side recounts a battle fought by
the Greek hero Achilles during the
Trojan war and is composed of four
figures set in a symmetrical w-shaped
grouping, which deliberately mimics
the wide mouth and narrow base of
the vase.
               Side A
      Achilles Fights Memnon

Both figures are slender, athletic and well-muscled.
Achilles has his shield ready to block   Memnon holds up his shield to
Memnon’s sword, and is also moving       block Achilles’ spear, while he
forward to thrust with his spear.        prepares to lunge forward with
                                         his own weapon. Raised heels
                                         suggest he is rushing forward
                                          This is Eos (Dawn).
Here we can                               She stands behind
clearly see           The two mothers     her son, Memnon.
Thetis, mother of   frame the warriors in She raises her
Achilles. She           the centre.       hand, either in
supports her                              support or anguish.
son, raising her                          Her drapery hangs
arms and urging                           in zig-zag folds, and
him on to defeat                          suggests she is
Memnon                                    moving away.
        Side B
Achilles Fights Hector
                                         Hector’s shield is behind him, leaving him
Again, Achilles has his shield ready     unprotected. His spear is pointing at the
to block, and, with his legs apart and   ground – not a threatening position for
his right heel raised, he is moving      Achilles. Perhaps Achilles has just fended
forward to deliver the fatal blow to     off a spear-thrust with his shield. He is
                                         leaning backwards, and has a weak
the already wounded Hector.              position, with left knee bent. He has two
Achilles is in a very strong body        bleeding wounds already – one on his thigh,
position.                                and one on his chest.
  On the edges of the scene
The fight is watched by two divine patrons.
Athena stands behind Achilles, and is
shown wearing her snake covered aegis
and a helmet. She holds a spear in one
hand and encourages Achilles with the
Apollo stands behind Hector, but appears to
be waving farewell to the doomed Hector
and is walking away to let Hector die on the
battlefield. He carries an arrow, perhaps as
a hint as to Achilles’ fate?
 On both sides only the neck and handles
 of the vase are decorated. The body is
 entirely black, except for a small band of
 rays at the foot. This draws attention to
 the shape of the vase, and to the small
 figures painted around the neck.

 The scenes are symmetrical and mirror
 each other.
Above the scene is a lotus and palmette band.

Below the scene is a band
of stylised meanders.
There is no overlapping, but the positioning of Achilles’ shield
   helps to create depth and a three-dimensional effect.
Achilles’ ¾ view pose is mirrored on both sides.

                                     Side B
   Side A
Both sides are composed in a W-shape, and both sides
                  are symmetrical.
     The two outer figures frame the central pair.
Painting Technique
This is a Red-Figure vase, so the figures
are first painted with a relief line, then
the background is filled in with black slip.
Next, extra details were added later in
diluted slips.
Painting Technique

Major muscles are painted                                    Dilute slip is also used for detail
                              Dilute slip is also used for   on the inside of the shields, as
with dark slip, while minor
muscles are painted with      Achilles’ hair.                well as Hector’s wounds.
dilute slip.
Achilles’ spear-arm is

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