2 - 6 - 4 After the birth of red figure (c.530-)

Late Black Figure (c.530-500)

After Exekias and other painters exploited all the possibility of black figure, their followers needed to look for other technique for further development of vase painting and invented new technique, red figure. However, not all vase painters moved to red figure but some painters still used old technique, though no master like Exekias appears from black figure workshops and they simply followed the style of their predecessors or contemporary red figure painters.

An important figure in the period of the birth of red figure is Nikosthenes [1]. His signature is preserved on many vases, including of some unique shapes taken from Etruskan workshops and intended for Etruskan market. His colleague, the N painter, often painted on so called Nikosthenic Amphorae, has old-fashioned style.

The best painter in this period is the Antimenes Painter, whose style shows influece from Exekias, though lacks in his glandeur[2]. His neck amphora in London representing people picking up olives shows his unique character.

The Leagros Group is the most prolific in this period. The group is influenced by the Antimenes Painter and preferred to depict the scenes from Trojan war on larger vessels [3]. On his hydria in Munich he depicted the fall of Troy. As many other vases of this period, so many figures are included in the panel that the scene becomes too crowded. Ovelapping silhouette figures makes the scene confusing too. This may because the painter copied red figure composition.

Cups with eye decoration, so called eye-cups, become popular in this period, though it was already attempted by Exekias. A figure or two figures are often depicted between the eyes. Eye-cups are also common among early red figure painters, whose works influenced on contemporary black figure eye-cups.

Other than black and red figure technique, the third technique, so called Six's technique named after a scholar who studied this technique first, was introduced in this period [4]. Figures are depicted with white or occasionally with red over vases completely covered with black, then details are represented by engraved lines. This technique was probably invented to create red figure-like effect with black figure-like technique. The decoration, however, could easily flake off and this technique was rarely attempted by followers. Again Nekosthenes left his signature on many vases with Six's technique and must play important role for the invention.

Latest Black Figure (c.500-)

Black figure painters in the fifth century rarely depicted on larger vessels. Most common shape is Lekythos, though the decoration scheme is different from ordinally black figure [5]. Surface is covered with white then figures are painted over the white ground. This white ground can, however, easily flake off and these white ground vases were not intended for daily use.

Although there are some painters worth to mention, we cannot find any painter who recalls us of the golden age of black figure established by Exekias. While this technique was used for smaller vessels, some vases for special purposes were still decorated with black figure. The Lebes Gamikos in London has both the struggle and wedding of Peleus and Thetis and the decoration is much better than that on comtemporary black figure vases. These ritual shapes occasionally have this old technique even after this technique completely abandoned from common shapes in the second quarter of the fifth century.

[1] For Nikosthenes, see, Eisman, M. M., "Nikosthenic amphorai", JPGMJ 1, pp.43-54, Eisman, M. M., "The Nikosthenic workshop as the producer of Attic kyathoi", AJA 74, pp.192-.
[2] For the Antimenes Painter, see, Beazley, J. D., "The Antimenes Painter", JHS 47, pp.63-92, Burow, J., Der Antimenesmaler, (1989).
[3] For the Leagros Group, see, Duplan, K. B., RA 1972, pp.64-.
[4] For the Six's technique, see, Six, J., "A rare vase-technique", JHS 30, pp.323-326.
[5] For late black figure lekythoi and the painters, see, Haspels, C. H. E., Attic black-figure lekythoi, (1936).