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Classics & Ancient History   >   Greek Art – Vase-Painting

Dinos of the Gorgon Painter

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Greek Art – Vase-Painting

In this course, Professor Robin Osborne (University of Cambridge) explores vase-painting in the Greek world from the eighth century to the middle of the fifth century BC, tracing a narrative that includes each of the vases on the OCR A Level Classical Civilization specification (H408), as well as several that are not on the specification. In the first module, we concentrate on the Dinos of the Gorgon Painter, and think about the ways it might be seen as a ‘transitional’ piece. In the second module, we look at the Sophilos Dinos and the François Vase, before turning in the third module to the works of Exekias and the Amasis Painter. In the fourth module, we think about the transition to the red-figure technique and the group of painters known as the Pioneers, before turning in the fifth module to trace the development of the red-figure style into the mid-5th century BC, from the densely-packed arrangements of the Kleophrades Painter to the minimalism of the Berlin Painter and beyond. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about the development of Greek art more generally in this period and ask whether Greek vase-painting undergoes a comparable ‘revolution’ to that seen in freestanding sculpture.

Note on referencing: pots are cited using their conventional name if applicable (e.g. ‘The Eleusis Amphora’) or (if not) their shape and the name of the painter of not (e.g. ‘Kylix attributed to the Berlin Painter’). We have also included details of estimated production date and the museum/collection in which the pot can currently be found (e.g. Dinos of the Gorgon Painter, c. 580 BC. Louvre E 874). Further details which might be of interest (e.g. height and diameter, painting style, etc.) can be found on museum websites.

Dinos of the Gorgon Painter

In this module, we think about the Dinos of the Gorgon Painter (Louvre E 874), focusing in particular on: (i) the revolution in painted pottery around 700 BC, when pots begin showing human figures in larger scale and in a greater variety of actions, as well as scenes from myth; (ii) the Eleusis Amphora: the subject-matter of the mythological scenes depicted, the strangely ‘geometric’ way in which the Gorgons are depicted, and the connection of the subject-matter to how the pot was actually used; (iii) the Nessos Painter’s Name Vase: the development of the ‘black figure’ style, and the connection of the subject matter to how the pot was actually used; (iv) the Dinos of the Gorgon Painter: the combination of traditional subject-matter (the Gorgon) in a new ritual context (the symposium), and the extent to which to arrangement of the figures in a circle around the neck of the pot reflects the pot’s use as a mixing vessel; and (v) the increasing unfashionability of the Gorgon on painted pottery from the mid-6th century onwards, except in specific contexts (e.g. on warrior’s shields, at the bottom of drinking cups).

Featured pots:
– Dinos of the Gorgon Painter, c. 580 BC. Louvre E 874.
– Oinochoe, attributed to the Workshop of the Painter of Athens 897, c. 720-10 BC. British Museum 1912,0522.1.
– The Burgon lebes, early seventh century BC. British Museum 1842,0728.827.
– The Eleusis Amphora, c. 675-50 BC. Archaeological Museum of Eleusis 2630.
– The Nessos Painter’s Name Vase, late 7th century BC, National Archaeological Museum of Athens 1002.
– Painter of Munich 1410’s Name Vase, c. 510 BC. Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich 1410.
– Terracotta kylix attributed to the C Painter, c. 575 BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art 01.8.6

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Osborne, R. (2021, February 02). Greek Art – Vase-Painting - Dinos of the Gorgon Painter [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Osborne, R. "Greek Art – Vase-Painting – Dinos of the Gorgon Painter." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 02 Feb 2021,


Prof. Robin Osborne

Prof. Robin Osborne

University of Cambridge