Having touched in Chapter II. upon the earlier styles of Greek pottery, I begin here with a vase of Attic manufacture, decorated, as an inscription on it shows, by Clitias, but commonly called from its finder the Francois vase. It may be assigned to the first half of the sixth century, and probably to somewhere near the beginning of that period. It is an early specimen of the class of black-figured vases, as they are called. The propriety of the name is obvious from the illustration. The objects represented were painted in black varnish upon the reddish clay, and the vase was then fired. Subsequently anatomical details, patterns of garments, and so on were indicated by means of lines cut through the varnish with a sharp instrument.
Moreover, the exposed parts of the female figures – faces, hands, arms, and feet – were covered with white paint, this being the regular method in the black- figured style of distinguishing the flesh of female from that of male figures.
The decoration of the Francois vase is arranged in horizontal bands or zones. The subjects are almost wholly legendary and the vase is therefore a perfect mine of information for the student of Greek mythology. Our present interest, however, is rather in the character of the drawing. This may be better judged from Fig. 189, which is taken from the zone encircling the middle of the vase. The subject is the wedding of the mortal, Peleus, to the sea- goddess, Thetis, the wedding whose issue was Achilles, the great hero of the Iliad. To this ceremony came gods and goddesses and other supernatural beings.
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