Ancient Mediterranean


Corinthian olpe, ca. 600 BCE
Moore Painter (Greek)
Earthenware, slip
17 x 9 inches
Gift of Theresa E. and Harlan E. Moore 1970-9-2

Beginning in the early seventh century BCE, pottery workshops in Corinth—then one of Greece's more prosperous cities—produced vessels in a distinct style later referred to as Corinthian or Orientalizing. This style is characterized by motifs that reflect contemporary trends in the visual arts of Egypt and the Near East, such as dancers, warriors, and creatures from myth, which are generally arranged in bands or registers that wrap around the vessel. The use of local, buff-colored clay and a decorative technique of incised and painted decoration, mainly in red, black, and white, also typify Corinthian ceramics. This vessel is attributed to an unknown artist called the Moore Painter in honor of the object's donor.

Registers of decoration cover almost the entire surface of this single-handled wine jug. Each one carries depictions of mythical animals, with the bodies rendered in profile and the heads shown both in profile and frontally. The spaces between the figures are filled with stylized rosettes and geometric forms, which add liveliness to the composition and diminish the horizontal emphasis of the registers. The long, thin vertical handle and black neck appear to elongate the vessel.

Corinthian potters would have had access to this visual vocabulary through the Egyptian, Persian, and Phoenician traders that came to Greek ports, and whose exports—pottery, textiles, metalwork—would have been available in the local markets. Like later Athenian pottery, Corinthian vessels have been found throughout the Mediterranean, an indication of their high quality and desirability. These vessels may have been exported by the Phoenicians and other traders who made Corinth one of their primary mercantile centers.

Text by Christine Zitrides, from Krannert Art Museum: Selected Works, 2008

  Subscribe Calendar Donate Contact