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the Exekias Amphora – 35cm



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Product description

Details of the original: culture/period: Attic/Archaic, production date: ca. 540BC-530BC, production place: made in: Attica (Greece), excavated/findspot: Italy: Lazio: Viterbo (province): Vulci, materials: pottery, ware: Red Figure, technique: painted/incised, dimensions: H: 41cm, W: 29cm, D: 29cm, museum: British Museum, producer name: attributed to Exekias.


The figures are identified by inscriptions and the amphora bears the signature of the artist who made and painted it. This is Exekias (ca. 575BC-525BC). The most distinguished of all Athenian black-figure painters and potters, the elegance and refinement of whose work is as astonishing as the boldness of his compositions. He signed as both potter (epoiesen 'made it') and painter (egrapsen 'painted it') and sometimes as both. He may have originated (as well as refined) new shapes; he also brought new interpretations to old myths and may have created entirely new images to convey and enhance traditional mythology. Sensitively drawn figures conveying subtle but powerful emotions were always designed with extraordinary care to fit the shapes that they decorated. The perfection of detail combined with monumentality of conception make the works he signed and the others attributed to his hand on the basis of style outstanding not just among black-figure vases but in the whole history of art.


(a) Achilles slaying Penthesilea: Achilles, the mythical Greek hero with indomitable strength, is depicted here at the moment he kills Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons. In Greek mythology, the Amazons were a people of bloodthirsty and formidable warriors, who, in order to be able to handle the bow and spear better, cut off their right breast. During the Trojan War, they rushed to aid the Trojans, and it is even said that Queen Penthesilea was killed in this war. While Achilles here pierces her neck with his spear, the amazon makes one last defensive move thrusting vainly with her spear. The two look into each other's eyes with intensity. He with the high-crested helmet still on his face, she, defeated and vulnerable, with her face uncovered and a stream of blood gushes from her wound. The choice of this particular moment alludes to that version of the myth according to which Achilles fell in love with Penthesilea at the very last moment of the duel. In front of Achilles is inscribed: Αχιλευ, in front of Penthesilea: Πενθεσιλεα. On the left is inscribed: Εχσεκιας εποιεσε (Exekias made this), on the right: Ονετοριδες καλος.


(b) Dionysos and Oinopion: In a symmetrical position with the scene of Achilles and Penthesileia, Dionysus, god of wine, is depicted. He is bearded, with hair looped up and wreathed with ivy, long white chiton and embroidered himation, holds in left hand vine-branches, and with right gives a cantharos to his son, Oinopion, who stands facing him, nude and beardless, his hair looped up with a myrtle wreath, holding an oinochoe in right hand. The reference to Dionysus is, of course, linked to the fact that this type of amphora with two handles was traditionally used at banquets. In front of Dionysos is inscribed Διονυσος; above Oinopion: Οινοπιον; behind him: Εχσεκιας εποιεσε, as on (a). Abstract spiral patterns adorn the surface of the vase while two rows of geometric and floral motifs adorn the base and neck of the vase.

Product details

Width: ⌀ 22 cm / 8.7″
Base: 22 cm / ⌀ 8.7
Height: 35 cm / 13.8″


Terracotta (fired clay)


Wheel throwing/painted
Black Figure


Pottery (earthenware)

Production date

Production place
Made in: Attica (Greece)