A History of Greek Art eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 181 pages of information about A History of Greek Art.
most important.  It was an article of export and thus found its way even into Egypt, where specimens have been discovered in tombs of the Eighteenth Dynasty and later.  The variations in form and ornamentation are considerable, as is natural with an article whose production was carried on at different centers and during a period of centuries.  Fig. 42 shows a few of the characteristic shapes and decorations; some additional pieces may be seen in Fig. 43.  The Mycenaean vases are mostly wheel-made.  The decoration, in the great majority of examples, is applied in a lustrous color, generally red, shading to brown or black.  The favorite elements of design are bands and spirals and a variety of animal and vegetable forms, chiefly marine.  Thus the vase at the bottom of Fig. 42, on the left, has a conventionalized nautilus; the one at the top, on the right, shows a pair of lily-like plants; and the jug in the middle of Fig. 43 is covered with the stalks and leaves of what is perhaps meant for seaweed.  Quadrupeds and men belong to the latest period of the style, the vase-painters of the early and central Mycenaean periods having abstained, for some reason or other, from those subjects which formed the stock in trade of the gem-engravers.

The Mycenaean pottery was gradually superseded by pottery of an essentially different style, called Geometric, from the character of its painted decorations.  It is impossible to say when this style made its first appearance in Greece, but it seems to have flourished for some hundreds of years and to have lasted till as late as the end of the eighth century B. C. It falls into several local varieties, of which the most important is the Athenian.  This is commonly called Dipylon pottery, from the fact that the cemetery near the Dipylon, the chief gate of ancient Athens, has supplied the greatest number of specimens.  Some of these Dipylon vases are of great size and served as funeral monuments.  Fig. 44 gives a good example of this class.  It is four feet high.  Both the shape and the decoration are very different from those of the Mycenaean style.  The surface is almost completely covered by a system of ornament in which zigzags, meanders, and groups of concentric circles play an important part.  In this system of Geometric patterns zones or friezes are reserved for designs into which human and animal figures enter.  The center of interest is in the middle of the upper frieze, between the handles.  Here we see a corpse upon a funeral bier, drawn by a two-horse wagon.  To right and left are mourners arranged in two rows, one above the other.  The lower frieze, which encircles the vase about at its middle, consists of a line of two-horse chariots and their drivers.  The drawing of these designs is illustrated on a larger scale on the right and left of the vase in Fig. 44; it is more childish than anything we have seen from the Mycenaean period.  The horses have thin bodies, legs, and necks, and their heads look as much like

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A History of Greek Art from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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