Athenian masters of painted vases, signatures and namesLocation: National Museum, Václavské nám., gallery of Pantheon - 3rd floor
Nikosthenes made… Athenian masters of painted vases, signatures and names The most beautiful items of the art and crafts of classical Antiquity include the painted Greek pottery that is called Greek vases. The most important workshops of Athens produced not only for local needs, but also for markets outside Greece. Thanks to numerous signatures and inscriptions we know the names of a number of masters and the character of paintings by other masters can be identifi ed by comparison. As early as in the first half of the 6th century B.C. there appeared signatures composed mainly of the verb epoiesen, which means „made by“, and in the second half of the 6th century B.C. there increased the number of inscriptions with the verb egrapsen meaning „drawn by“, „painted by“. Some names include both these verbs. Such cases are frequent especially in connection with outstanding masters of the late archaic red-fi gure painting. Among the Athenian masters who signed their products there was also the potter Nikosthenes (ΝΙΚΟΣΘΕΝΕΣ), who was active mainly in the last third of the 6th century B.C. This was a period in which the potter workshops were looking for new ways to keep pace with the general development of Greek art and also to revive the interest of clients from other regions, esp. Etruria. It was just the workshop of potter Nikosthenes that has produced new vases whose shape had as its pattern the Etruscan pottery bucchero. The small shape with overreaching handle with applied fi gural elements is identifi ed by the Greek term kyathos, which can be translated as „dipper“, meaning the ladle for wine from which wine was also drunk. Nikosthenes used the Etruscan shape, but this shape was decorated by a painter from the same workshop in Greek style by a black-fi gure scene of buoyant jolliness of mainads and satyrs. Above the scene is the inscription NΙΚΟΣΘΕΝΕΣ ΕΠΟΙΕΣΕΝ (Nikosthenes epoiesen - „made by Nikostnenes“). This master has never signed as the painter, that means ΕΓΡΑΠΣΕΝ (egrapsen), which probably means that he was a potter and probably the owner of the workshop. The number of his preserved signatures– about one hundred – is an indication not only of the mass production of the workshop but also of the preference and established habit to mark the products with his name. The exhibited kyathos is the only Greek vase with the signature of the master in the Czech Republic.