Attic black-figure pottery pelike depicting a scene of daily lifeOn display
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Originating in the Greek city of Corinth during the 7th century BC, the black-figure technique of vase-painting, where the figures are silhouetted in black paint with incised details against an unpainted clay background, was adopted and refined by Athenian craftsmen in the subsequent century, to remarkable effect. This pelike, a jar used for storing wine or other liquids, is attributed to the so-called Eucharides Painter who worked in Athens around 500–470 BC.
On one side of the vase is a scene of satyrs, followers of the wine-god Dionysos, with a goat and an individual, possibly Hermes, messenger of the gods. The scene on the other side, however, explains the vessel’s modern name: the Shoemaker Vase. It depicts a shoemaker cutting out a leather sole around the foot of a customer and provides a captivating glimpse of everyday life in 5th-century BC Athens. The craftsman bends intently over his task while the customer, shown at a smaller scale, balances on the table, resting his hand on the shoemaker’s head. Another man looks on, leaning on a staff and holding branches – he may be the owner of the workshop. White paint has been added to pick out details.
Scenes of craftsmen are relatively rare on Athenian pottery which generally exhibits a preference for heroic, mythical and elite subject matters. Instead, examples have been recovered from Etruria in Italy, while this pelike was found on the island of Rhodes where there was presumably a market for such images.
Attic black-figure pottery pelike depicting a scene of daily life
Archaic Period (750 - 480 BC)
Material and technique
pottery, with painted and incised decoration
Dimensions40 cm (height)
rim 17.8 cm (diameter)
foot 19 cm (diameter)
31 cm (width)
1.8 cm (rim thickness)
No. of items
Museum locationGround floor | Gallery 16 | The Greek World
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Vickers, M., Greek Vases (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1978), 32
Piper, David, and Christopher White, Treasures of the Ashmolean Museum: An Illustrated Souvenir of the Collections, revised edn (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1995), no. 17 on p. 23, illus. p. 22 fig. 17
Katherine Wodehouse (general editor), The Ashmolean Museum Crossing Cultures Crossing Time (Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford, 2014), para.173
Beazley, John Davidson, ‘Three New Vases in the Ashmolean Museum’, 28, (1908), pp 313-316, pl. XXX
Beazley, J.D., H.G.G. Payne, E.R. Price, Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum, Great Britain 9, Oxford 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931), nos 7-8 on p. 100, nos 7-8 on pl. 8
Boardman, John, Athenian Black Figure Vases (London: Oxford University Press, 1974), p. 113; no. 229 on p. 246, no. 229 on p. 143
Vickers, M., Ancient Greek Pottery (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1999), no. 23 on p. 35, no. 23 on p. 35