Lexicon

After red-figure pottery

New techniques in vase painting 1

By the end of the 4th century BC, after a history spanning more than two centuries, red-figure pottery became obsolete, and slowly went out of fashion. It was replaced with new techniques which used chiefly floral and geometric motifs instead of figural decoration.

Although some Apulian vases preserved the traditional red and black colours, figures only appeared as silhouettes (1–2) or were outlined in red on the black ground (3). Besides red, other colours were also used on the black slip, which is illustrated by the cup (4) made in Teano after Apulian models (cf. Black-glazed pottery, 9–17). Even more distanced from the red-figure tradition is the technique that does not use a black slip but applies the colours directly onto the unpainted clay. This is illustrated by the Canosan incense burner (5), and the hydria linked to Cretan pottery workshops (6): a type popular especially in Alexandria.

In these later styles, painted decoration was often complemented by incised or stamped details (4, 7), while plastic modelling also played an important role (8). The shape and decoration of the relief bowl (9) was achieved by pressing the clay in a mould. This technique first appeared in Athens, but soon became widely used, and played an important role in Roman pottery as well.