In this article, we research the differences in between red- and also black-figure vases and go v the procedure of exactly how they to be made.

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If you’ve ever before been to an archaeological museum v a arsenal of Greek pottery, you’re no doubt familiar with rows the black- and orange-coloured vases neatly arranged in display screen cases. Large amounts of these pots, both entire vessels and countless fragments, have been retrieved indigenous excavations, in enhancement to specimens obtained from (potentially illegal) auctions and antiques markets.

Especially ubiquitous room red- and black-figure vases. These were intended, like all finely decorated pottery, as quality tableware. Exceptionally wealthy old Greeks and also Romans also used silver tableware, that which practically nothing survives. For cooking and other purposes, simpler and cruder ship were offered that were generally not decorated in any fashion. These kitchen ship were usually fired at much reduced temperature and made indigenous coarser clay. Fine ceramic was usually shaped utilizing a potter’s wheel, coarser vessels were often just shaped by hand.

You deserve to actually hear the difference in between fine tableware, fired at higher temperatures and also made indigenous fine clay, if girlfriend drop a sherd ~ above a difficult surface: a fragment of the much more expensive type of pot will certainly ring out, whereas a fragment that a vessel offered for food preparation or storage and also made from coarser clay will certainly sound dull in comparison. (Note: don’t begin throwing pottery roughly without to express permission!)

Red- and also black-figure pottery

Black-figure an approach is the oldest of the two layouts of painting. It was developed in Corinth about 700 BC, though Corinthian vase-painting the this early period is commonly not referred to as “black figure”. By the later seventh century BC, Athenian vase-painters embraced the technique, applying it come larger types of vessels that were soon to become an ext popular than the typically smaller Corinthian pots. Athenian black-figure eventually became dominant, displacing Corinthian pottery by the beforehand sixth century BC.

Before painting, the surface ar of the pot to be burnished and polished before it fully hardened out. The artist sketched the outlines of the scenes he (or, indeed, she) wanted to paint. These were climate coloured in using a well clay slip through a different consistency and also makeup indigenous the clay used for the pot itself. The painted slip to be then allowed to dry.

After the slip had dried, the artist added details, such as folds in clothing and eyes, through incision using a tool v a spicy point, which revealed the colour of the pot underneath. Various other colours could then it is in painted over the darker slip, such as red, yellow, or white. White to be made indigenous fine white clay. The white clay could be mised through yellow ochre to develop a yellow colour. Red to be made of red stole oxide.

Two sides of a bilingual amphora portraying Ajax and also Achilles engrossed in a game. ~ above the left is the black-figure next of the vase, if the red-figure variation of the same scene is shown on the right. Height: 55.5 cm. Museum of well Arts, Boston.

The red-figure vase-painting an approach was an initial developed in Athens (or somewhere in the an ar controlled by Athens, i.e. Attica) in ca. 530 BC. Red-figure is essentially the turning back of black color figure: the background is fill in with a fine slip and also has a black colour ~ firing, while the numbers are reserved. Details are included using good brushes instead of v incision, enabling the artists to include a higher level of information to their art.

Red-figure existed next by side with black-figure because that a while, through some artists even making so-called “bilingual” vases, in which one side was executed in red-figure and the various other in black-figure. The 2 contrasting scene on separation, personal, instance bilingual vases are frequently similar. Red-figure would stay in use until well into the third century BC.

The shoot process

In ancient Greece, pottery was do in pottery workshops that generally employed a number of people. Few of them would certainly harvest and also clean the clay, if potters shaped the vessels and painters decorated them. They were probably family members businesses. Sometimes, potter and also painter to be the same. There space a couple of vases the depict such workshops. After ~ the artist was done through the vase, it would be left to dry in the open up air. A few painters and also potters in reality signed the vessels that they aided create.

Vessels that were all set to it is in fired were stacked within a kiln where temperatures would certainly reach at least 450 degrees Celsius. The conditions inside the kiln were closely monitored, perhaps by leaving smaller sized pieces of pottery in a ar that was easy to watch or reach v a spy hole. The bright colours and also deep blacks of Attic red- and black-figure vases were accomplished through a process in i beg your pardon the atmosphere inside the kiln went with a cycle of oxidizing, reducing, and reoxidizing.

During the oxidizing phase, the ferric oxide within the Attic clay achieves a glowing red-to-orange colour. By contrast, clay indigenous e.g. Corinth is paler in colour. Throughout this stage, the temperature inside the kiln reaches possibly 800 degrees and air is enabled into the kiln with a vent (hence, “oxidizing”, together the air adds oxygen come the atmosphere).

During the reduce phase, the air vent is closed and the temperature is enhanced to around 950 degrees. Humidity was included in the type of eco-friendly wood or other damp materials to develop carbon monoxide instead of carbon dioxide. An unified with the ferrix oxide indigenous the clay, the ship would revolve dark grey to black. The finer particles of clay offered for the black gloss (i.e. The “paint”) would become sintered or fused as a result, transforming permanently, unequal the coarser particles of the courage itself.

Approximated colour alters that a vase goes through during the shoot process. As a base, I used a black-figure pot native the archaeological museum the Rhodes that was restored from fragments, explaining the breaks and also reconstructions. Far left: what the vase would have looked like prior to firing. 2nd from left: the vase during the oxidizing phase. 2nd from the right: what the vase throughout the to reduce phase. Much right: during the reoxidizing phase, the vase achieves its final look.

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In the final, reoxidizing step of the shooting process, some air was allowed ago into the kiln and also the temperature was slowly lowered to about 900 degrees. The oxygen turned the much more porous booked clay native gray to a glowing orange-reddish colour. Since the earlier reducing phase had actually sintered the surface of the black gloss, preventing any type of further chemical reactions and also leaving it the preferred black colour.