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How far do you think that the Kleophrades Painter's use of red figure gave him an advantage over the Amasis Painter who worked in black figure?

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James Morris-Cotterill Classics Coursework Mr. Brinded How far do you think that the Kleophrades Painter's use of red figure gave him an advantage over the Amasis Painter who worked in black figure? The full black figure style emerged by the mid-7th century and the red figure technique emerged around 530 BC. The Amasis Painter worked in the black figure style, using a red background and black figures, and the Kleophrades Painter in the red style, using a black background and red figures. The differences in techniques afforded differences in quality between the two painters. It is true to say that the Kleophrades Painter's works are superior to that of the Amasis Painter's, however, whilst the advantage granted through the use of the red figure technique is evident, it is not the only reason for the Kleophrades Painter's superiority. The black figure technique, as noted above, used a red background and black figures. Details were cut (incised) into the black slip, and the vase was then fired. The Amasis painter mainly portrayed real life on vases, as opposed to mythological scenes, which are often undramatic and difficult to interpret, due to the lack of written inscriptions. His works show a trend towards a central figure/ object around which the scene is organised. There is little or no physical contact between the figures and little overlapping. Gesture is the most important feature of the Amasis Painter's work. The red figure technique which the Kleophrades Painter used was an Athenian invention and was effectively the reverse of black figure, i.e. red on black, achieved by painting the background rather than the figures, and painting details with a brush, as opposed to incising. The Kleophrades painter was one of the great painters of the early 5th century and painted mainly mythological scenes with large figures that overlapped and interacted greatly. Red figure offered many advantages over the black figure style. ...read more.


Of note in this piece is the drapery, especially that of the woman on the right. There were also problems in creating depth. Also, individual lines do not vary in thickness as they run, unlike those in figure 1, another limitation of the incisor. This restricted artists such as the Amasis Painter, from creating a realistic character. With a brush, differences in line thickness allow flow throughout the piece, for example, drapery in the 7th century would appear heavy and doughy as seen in figure 3 on Dionysus' tunic which appears very solid and immovable, much like the drapery of early Kore statues. Replacing the incisor with the brush allowed greater freedom of line and movement, causing characters to become more realistic, for example, the Kleophrades Painter's (attributed by Robertson) Sosias cup, where Achilles binds Patroklos' wounds (fig. 4). The drapery of the garment beneath Achilles' armour is extremely light and is also transparent, adding to its breezy quality. The cloth also follows the shape of Achilles' legs, and looks as it would if it were really worn, with gravity pulling it down at the back where it hangs lose and lifted at the front by his upper leg being raised, allowing the cloth to drape and unfurl between these two points. The same is for Patroklos' garment, especially noticeable on his shield arm, where it has rucked up, following the lean of the body to the right, whilst the garment over the sword arm falls away gently. Also of note are the eyes. There is a definite move away from the traditional diamond frontal eye, here shown as an eye it would if in profile in real life, although somewhat enlarged. Figure 4, is demonstrative of another advantage that red had over black. The character Patroklos is quite obviously not at right angles to the viewer as in pieces such as figure 2, where the figures are all directly profilier, rather at a three-quarter view, allowing us to see the profile of his left leg and head/neck but also the frontal view of his torso and right leg. ...read more.


The hair of the maenads is very straggly and unkempt, accompanying the wild twists and twirls of the bodies. Dionysus himself has short hair in this depiction, unlike that in figure 3 and 6 yet his beard is typical, although his moustache is unusually thin. However, whilst it is true that the Kleophrades Painter's work is superior to the Amasis Painter's and that this is undoubtedly aided immensely by his use of red figure, there are additional reasons for the former's strength over the latter's that do not concern the difference in style. Firstly, the content of the works are different. The Amasis Painter's works are mainly of real life scenes, whilst the Kleophrades Painter's works depict myths and legends. Here, there is obvious scope for the pieces to be more entertaining and enthralling, as seen in figure 1, the fall of Troy, with action filling the whole piece as opposed to figure 2, where little is happening, action being merely hinted at subtly with gesture, with no real physical interaction between the parties, except for the handing over of the hare and apparent conversation. Also, the ability of the artists, again seen in figure 1, to add pathos and hidden messages to the viewer should not be overlooked. Whilst red figure enabled the artist to depict the scene more realistically, and this adds to the overall effect, the artist himself is the creator of feeling in scenes such as the fall of Troy, making links with the Persian wars and the sense of human loss involved in war. Thus, it can be said that the Kleophrades Painter's use of red figure gave him an immense advantage over the Amasis Painter, however, other factors do come into play when comparing the two. Also, the advantages that black figure held over the red figure, for example the effectiveness and ease of creating ornamental decoration, and the disadvantages of using red figure, such as depiction of depth should not be underestimated. ...read more.

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