Greek pottery has long fascinated scholars and historians of art. It provides a continuous commentary on all other Greek arts, even sculpture, and the scenes figured on the vases can prove to be as subtle and informative as the great works of Greek literature. In no other art of antiquity do we come closer to the visual experience of the ancient Greeks, or are we able to observe so clearly their views on life, myth, and even politics. John Boardman has demonstrated the stylistic history of Greek vases in other Thames & Hudson titles; as he writes, the subject “is a central one to classical archaeology and art, and dare not be ignored by students of any other ancient medium, or indeed of any other classical discipline.”
Here Boardman sketches that history but goes on to explore many other matters that make the study so fruitful. He describes the processes of identifying artists, the methods of making and decorating the vases, the life of the potters’ quarter in Greek towns, and the way in which the wares were traded far beyond the borders of the Greek world. Boardman shows how Greek artists exercised a style of narrative in art that was long influential in the West, and how their pictures reflected not simply on storytelling but also on the politics and social order of the day.
John Boardman, Lincoln Professor Emeritus of Classical Archaeology and Art at Oxford University, has written widely on the art and archaeology of ancient Greece. His previous books include The Greeks Overseas, The History of Greek Vases, The World of Ancient Art, and others.