Ancient Greek vase production and the black-figure technique

From heroes and gods to everyday life, ancient Greek pottery depicted a variety of subjects.

Used for the storage and shipment of grains, wine, and other goods, as well as in the all-male Greek drinking party, known as the symposium, ancient Greek vases were decorated with a variety of subjects ranging from scenes of everyday life to the tales of heroes and gods. The two most popular techniques of vase decoration were the black-figure technique, so-named because the figures were painted black, and the red-figure technique, in which the figures were left the red color of the clay. The black-figure technique developed around 700 B.C. and remained the most popular Greek pottery style until about 530 B.C., when the red-figure technique was developed, eventually surpassing it in popularity. This video illustrates the techniques used in the making and decorating of a black-figure amphora (storage jar) in the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection.. Video from the Art Institute of Chicago


Cite this page as: Art Institute of Chicago, "Ancient Greek vase production and the black-figure technique," in Smarthistory, December 21, 2015, accessed July 13, 2024,