Who was the Berlin Painter?
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Who was the Berlin Painter?

red-figure amphora

One of the most famous Greek red-figure vase painters is known today as the Berlin Painter. Like Exekias, he worked in Athens. The reason we call him the Berlin Painter is that we don't know his name, because he didn't sign his vases.

People call this artist the Berlin Painter because one of his most famous vases is now in Berlin, in Germany. We don't know anything else about him, either - not even whether he was a slave or not.

Berlin painter

Based on the style of the vases he painted, the Berlin Painter lived about 500-480 BC. His vases generally show one person, or a couple of people, alone in the middle of the scene, with a lot of black around them. This simple layout is like the Greek paintings of the same time, like the Tomb of the Diver at Paestum.

Experts can tell his vases apart from vases painted by other artists from the style of the painting: not just that the figures are alone, but also the way he draws eyes and hands and clothing.

Learn by doing: a vase painting project
More about red figure pottery

Bibliography and further reading about Greek red-figure vase painting:

Ancient Greek Art, by Susie Hodge (1998)- easy reading.
Understanding Greek Vases: A Guide to Terms, Styles, and Techniques (Getty Museum Publications 2002) by Andrew J. Clark, Maya Elston, Mary Louise Hart

More about Black-Figure vases
More about Red-Figure vases
Ancient Greece
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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