Nancy Ludgin

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Liakos, Dimitri

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Exekias; Vases; Black-figured--Greece; Pottery; Greek; Vase-painting; Greek


This thesis examines the major artistic creations of Exekias, master of Attic black-figure vase painting. Exekias worked first as a potter, and later, during his mature years (540-530 BC), as potter and painter. Exekias transcended other Archaic artists. He gave unique treatment to legendary events. A skilled draftsman, he conveyed the emotions and inner thoughts of his characters, a rare occurrence in Archaic art. As a potter, he improved several important vase shapes: the Type A amphora and the Type A kylix. With his calyx- krater, he developed an entirely new shape. Chapter I presents a discussion of the techniques of black-figure vase painting. In Chapter II, Exekias' style and iconographic choice will be explored. Many of his paintings featured Trojan War incidents often including his hero, Ajax. Exekias was fascinated with the movement of human and animal forms. Splendid horses appear on nearly half of his extant vases. In the last chapter, seven of Exekias' finest creations will be examined. Analysis of several of his early works provides evidence of his extraordinary talent. Almost from the beginning, he had an eye for detail and was able to include the elements essential to his story. In Ajax Preparing for His Suicide. Exekias featured a moment never before chosen. Always the innovator, he entangled the dying Penthesileia and Achilles so they resemble one figure in Achilles Slaving Penthesileia. Dionysos on a Boat and Dionysos and Oinooion display Exekias' original interpretation of a popular subject. The Return of the Dioscuri, a tender family reunion, contrasts in mood with the tension created in Achilles and Ajax Playing a Board Game. With his final masterpiece, the Departure of Herakles for Olvmpos. Exekias took black-figure painting to its zenith. The thesis will demonstrate that Exekias created masterpieces that stand among the finest in Greek art. His vases possess clarity of line and harmony of parts. He intuitively chose the appropriate composition for a surface. As an innovative potter and painter, he profoundly influenced his contemporaries and immediate successors. He was a true herald of the Early Classical period that would follow.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 90-93)


vii, 105 pages




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