The Greek Vase: Art of the Storyteller

The Greek Vase: Art of the Storyteller

        • John H. Oakley

          This richly illustrated volume offers a fascinating introduction to ancient Greek vases for the general reader. It presents vases not merely as beautiful vessels to hold water and wine, but also as instruments of storytelling and bearers of meaning.

          The first two chapters analyze the development of different shapes of pottery and relate those shapes to function, the evolution in vase production techniques and decoration, and the roles of potters, painters, and their workshops. Subsequent chapters focus on vases as the primary source of imagery from ancient Greece, offering unique information about mythology, religion, theater, and daily life. The author discusses how to identify the figures and scenes depicted in vase paintings, what these narratives would have meant to the people who lived with them and used them, and how they therefore reflect the cultural values of their time. Also examined is the impact Greek vases had on the art, architecture, and literature of subsequent generations.

          Based on the rich collections of the British Museum and the J. Paul Getty Museum, the exquisite details of the works offer the reader the opportunity for an intimate interaction with the graphic beauty and narrative power of ancient vases often not available in a gallery setting.

          John H. Oakley is Chancellor Professor and Forrest D. Murden, Jr. Professor in the Department of Classical Studies at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. He is the editor of and a contributor to Athenian Potters and Painters (American School of Classical Studies, 1994) and author of The Achilles Painter (Philipp von Zabern, 1997).

          114 pages
          10 x 10 1/2 inches
          130 color illustrations
          ISBN 978-1-60606-147-3
          hardcover

          Getty Publications
          Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum

          2013
        • Meant for general readers, Oakley’s book walks through the main styles and production centers of Greek figurative pottery, from about the mid-eighth century through the mid-fourth century B.C., stopping in at Corinth and Southern Italy, but with most attention reserved for the highly developed Athenian black- and red-figure work. Oakley provides a succinct primer on the different vessel forms, a varied array of cups, pitchers, storage jars, wine-mixing bowls, sacral implements and others. There is poetry in their names (kantharos, kylix, hydria, oinochoe, pelike), and it’s fun to gradually learn the shapes and to notice them turning up in so many of the painted scenes: sly self-reference by the painters (who also depicted potteries) or, more likely, a reminder of the ubiquitousness of these utilitarian objects in daily life.
        • NY Times


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