Art of the Ancient World, C. 5000 B.c.e.–400 C.E.

Ancient Greek Art

Who was Exekias?

Greek vases from the Classical period feature some of the most impressive paintings in the ancient world, and Exekias is considered to be one of the greatest vase painters of the time. Living in Athens during the sixth century B.C.E., Exekias painted in what is known as the black-figure style, which places black figures on a red background. His work is noted for its grace and sense of order. One of his most famous pieces depicts Achilles and Ajax Playing Draughts, from c. 530 B.C.E. The scene takes place during a break in fighting during the Trojan War when the mythological warriors paused to play a game of ancient checkers. The scene is very symmetrical and the arrangement of figures takes into account the swelling form of the vase itself. Exekias not only painted the vase, but he was also the potter; a signature on the piece reads: “Exekias painted me and made me.”


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