One of the things I have learned about ancient Greek art is that there was a significant shift in artistic styles that occurred sometime around 500 BC. The “Classical Revolution” in Greece represented a shift away from the “Conceptual” view of the world that…
These types of images were giving way to more humanist styles in forms of expression as images were depicted in a more optical style. These changes can be seen when comparing pottery currently on display at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, such as the Panathenaic prize vase and the Amphora Depicting Oedipus and the Sphinx of Thebes.
There are numerous similarities between these two objects, but with approximately 100 years between manufacture, stylistic differences are also evident. Both objects are classified as amphora, which was a type of two-handled urn that was often used to carry wine or water. These types of vessels were often decorated with scenes from heroic stories and mythology as in the image of Oedipus talking with the Sphinx in the later example (Skaar, 2006). This ceramic amphora was made in the red figure style in the city of Athens sometime between 450-440 BC by the Achilles painter. It stands approximately 13 inches high and is approximately 6 ½ inches in diameter at its widest point near the center (Bostom Museum). Despite the tradition, though, the earlier example seems to be more of a commemorative piece as it depicts five stylized runners and is marked with the words “of the prizes from Athens” (Boston Museum). This amphora is also ceramic and created in Athens, but is made in what is called the black figure style approximately 100 years earlier between 530-520 BC by the Euphiletos Painter. It stands approximately 24 inches tall and measures approximately 16 inches around at its widest point near the top (Boston Museum). Both vases have some damage as a result of time. The Prize vase shows some signs of damage and attempts at restoration while some of the pigment for the Oedipus amphora has worn away leaving some of the story of the vase up to science and history.
The museum’s assessment of these pieces seems largely correct. ...
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