Vessel of Euthymides

Vessel of Euthymides
Vessel of Euthymides

Until the irruption of the painting of Ancient Greece, practically all the pictorial remains from different parts of the world that have survived to this day show us that for about two millennia they prevailed the patterns of Egyptian painting that we know both from the remains of mural paintings in tombs, such as that of Queen Nefertari, and in documents such as the Papyrus of the Judgment of the Dead. That is to say, the human figure was always painted in recognizable parts without taking into account the whole, hence a head was painted in profile but the eye that saw as if it were looking at us from the front. Or we saw the torso from the front and the two legs from the side.

Vase of Euthymides

Euthymides Vessel

This changed with the Greek artists, of whom no remains of their mural works have come down to us, but we do know them from the ceramic painting. We even know the name of certain artists such as the ceramic painter Exekias or Eutímides, author of this vessel in which he presents us with a scene representing the farewell of the warrior and which he made around the year 500 before Christ.

With the Greek painters it can be said that realism came to painting. In this pottery painted with red figures we can appreciate it in certain very innovative details. For example, in the central character we see the different posture of his two feet. We see one from the front and the other fromforeshortened, in profile, in a much more natural posture. It is true that there are also elements of the millenary tradition, but the great advance of a painting that is based not only on established codes but also on the observation of nature and the attempt to capture it in figures is seen.

On the other hand, in Greek ceramic painting there are two main currents. One with red figures, like this one from Euthymides, and another with black figures. Both are of a very linear technique, however in the red figures it is observed that the strokes can be softened and modulated much more. This accentuation of contours in some cases and softening others, increases the sensation of volume in the figures, sometimes even giving the impression of bodybuilding or folds in the clothing, as we see here in the three characters represented. Whereas previously the painting was completely flat. These are steps that were taken and we would have to think about how they would be done in mural painting, and even easel painting, since for example the Greek temples today we see emaciated and with the color of stone and marble, but originally it was completely polychrome, as was the case with his reliefs and statues, so the sensation they provoked would be completely different.

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