Be a member
Send article with e-mail
Your e-mail *
Friend e-mail *
CAPTCHA *
CAPTCHA Code *
Refresh CAPTCHA
Comment
* required fields
Send
More
- +
by Archaeology Newsroom

Greek Painting from the Geometric to the Hellenistic period

Our knowledge about the ancient Greek painting is quite fragmentary, due to the perishable nature of wood, leather or stuccoed walls on which monumental paintings were created. Apart from some direct information deriving form a few original works (tombs and tombstones) our knowledge of the evolution of ancient Greek painting is mainly based on the ancient sources; on vase painting the representations of which reflect to a certain extent the quests and the accomplishments of their great contemporary painters; on Roman wall-paintings which either copy or get inspiration from works of art of the Classical and the Hellenistic periods. The combined use of the above has helped us record the stages, repertoire, quests and achievements of an art which was especially praised by the ancient writers. Yet, it is only thanks to the superb wall-paintings recently discovered by Manolis Andronikos at Vergina that we were given the opportunity to evaluate the quality and pursuits of the great painters of Classical antiquity. During the Geometric and the Archaic periods ancient Greek painting, mostly myth-bound, as regards its repertoire, was especially concerned with the understanding of the rendering of the human or animal form and their combination in a two-dimensional conception. During the fifth century it achieved till mastering of a more complex figurative composition imprinting gradually through line or colour the three-dimensionality of figures and objects in space. By the end of the fifth and during the fourth century, it completed its course, by having achieved the game of light and shade on bodies and objects; by having expressed the ethos and the passion of the represented figures; by having succeeded in composing impressive scenes of multi-figure action. All these accomplishments and the full mastering of the painted media do actually prevail in the technique and style of the excellent wall paintings at Vergina. Landscape was not an end in itself either in the Archaic or in the Classical Period, although it was abstractively used in order to complement the meaning of the representation. Despite its impressive rendering on the hunting scene decorating the facade of Philip’s tomb at Vergina it was only during the Hellenistic period that it gained importance. The thorough study of the naked human body, in light or shade, as it is moving in space, in order to fully exhibit its beauty in a three-dimensional concept was re-approached again only during the Renaissance period.