Apulian vase painting


Apulian vase painting

Apulian vase painting was the leading South Italian vase painting tradition between 430 and 300 BC. Of the "circa" 20,000 surviving specimens of Italian red-figure vases, about half are from Apulian production, while the rest is from the four other centres of production, namely Paestum, Campania, Lucania and Sicily.

The main production centre for Apulian vases was at Taras, the only large Greek "polis" in Apulia. Two styles, the "Plain Style" and the "Ornate Style" (sometimes "Rich Style") are distinguished. The first largely eschews additional colouring and was mostly used for the decoration of bell "kraters", colonet "kraters" and smaller vessels. Their decoration is quite simple, the pictorial compositions usually include one to four figures (eg. Sisyphus Painter, Tarporley Painter). The motifs focus on mythical subjects, but also include women's heads, warriors in scenes of battle or departure, and dionysiac "thiasos" imagery. The backs usually have depcitions of cloaked youths. After the middle of the fourth century, the simple style became stylistically increasingly similar to the ornate one (eg. Varrese Painter.

The artists of the "Ornate Style" preferred bigger vessels with space for larger images, such as volute "kraters", amphorae, "loutrophoroi" and "hydriai". Compositions contained up to 20 figures, often arranged in two or more registers. The figures frequently appear to be floating. Colouring was usued copiously, especially red, gold/yellow and white. While ornamentation had originally been relatively simple, from the mid-fourth century BC onwards, painters increasingly placed rich vegetal ornaments, especially on the necks and sides of vases. At the same time, simple perspective depictions of architecture, especially of "Underworld Palaces" ("naiskoi") became common. From about 360 BC, a common motif were grave scenes showing individuals performing offerings at a stylised grave or pillar. Important representatives include the Ilioupersis Painter, the Darius Painter and the Baltimore Painter.Popular mythological motifs include the assembly of the Gods, the amazonomachy, Bellerophon, Heracles, and events of the Trojan War. There are also many individual depictions of myths that are bot commonly depicted otherwise. many scenes have dionysiac or aphrodisiac themes, probably directly connected to funerery traditions and grave cults (many of the vases were made as grave offerings). Ideas of an afterlife are frequently implied or epressed by such paintings. The motif of women's head growing out of flowers or between tendrils belong to the same context. Sometimes, the women's heads are replaced by that of Pan, Hermes or foreigners. In the second half of the fourth century, depcitions of weddings, women and erotic motifs become more common. Apulian vases also occasionally depict theatrical scenes, which are also known from the other South Italian traditions, but absent in Attica. They include motifs from dramatic theatre as well as from farce (phlyax play). In contrast, scenes of everyday life and athletic motifs disappear from the repertoire nearly totally after 370 BC.

The Apulian vase painters had considerable influence on the painters of the other South Italian traditions. Some of the appear to have moved to cities other than Taras, such as eg. Canosa. Apart from red-figure pottery, black-glazed vases with painted decoration (Gnathia vases) and polychrome vases (Canosa Vases) were also produced. The South Italian clays are less rich in iron than the Attic ones. As a result, the clay would not reach the rich red known from Attic red-figure vases. This was compensated by the addition of slips of light ochre clay before firing, which also produced smoother surfaces.

Literature

* Arthur Dale Trendall: "The red-figured vases of Apulia, 1. Early and Middle Apulian", Oxford 1978
* Arthur Dale Trendall: "The red-figured vases of Apulia, 2. Late Apulian. Indexes", Oxford 1982
* Arthur Dale Trendall; Alexander Cambitoglou: "First supplement to the red-figured vases of Apulia", University of London, Institute of Classical Studies, Bulletin supplements 42, London 1983
* Arthur Dale Trendall; Alexander Cambitoglou: "Second supplement to the red-figured vases of Apulia, 1-3", University of London, Institute of Classical Studies, Bulletin supplements 60, London 1991-92
* Arthur Dale Trendall: "Rotfigurige Vasen aus Unteritalien und Sizilien. Ein Handbuch." von Zabern, Mainz 1991 (Kulturgeschichte der Antiken Welt Vol. 47), ISBN 3-8053-1111-7 (esp. p. 85-177)
* Rolf Hurschmann: "Apulische Vasen", in Der Neue Pauly Vol. 1 (1996), col. 922-923.

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