Kleophon Painter - Background


The Kleophon Painter was known for his paintings of various Red Figure Attic Vases during the fourth century BCE. The themes of his vases for the most part stick to a few specific genres. While there are a few exceptions, the majority of the themes are either Greek Mythology, domestic themes (to include sacrifices and parades), and paintings of warriors. Of the vases that have been discovered, there are one hundred and four domestic style vases, forty three vases about Mythology, and twenty four paintings about warriors. His vases can be found throughout the world. Even in the fourth century BCE he shipped vases as far as Italy and Spain according to the provenance that the vases have been found in. The majority his vases are bigger vases, with only a few smaller ones. Most of his vases are Kraters. The Kleophon painter had a pretty common style which makes his vases difficult to distinguish from other vases that were painted during the same time period. Many of his vases are classified as “manner of Kleophon P” or “compares to Kleophon P”. One painter that he was similar to was The Dinos Painter. The Dinos Painter also had a fairly general style which made him and Kleophon similar and hard to distinguish between.

The Kleophon Painter was likely located in or around the city-state of Athens because of the amount of discoveries of his work there. Twenty two of the Kleophon Painter’s vases are still located in Athens at either the Agora Museum Athens National Museum. It is clear that he shipped vases throughout the Mediterranean because so many of his works have been discovered in varying places there. He is one of the harder Greek Vase Painters to identify because so many of his paintings contain attributes that are associated with other painters. One of the ways to tell is by the location of the vase combined with the attributes on the vase such as the theme, type of vase, patterns, and style of the characters on the vase, especially the eyes and chin. In the Kleophon Painter’s case, the eyes are usually a rounded off triangle shape and the chin is generally rounded off or even bulbous at times.

The characters he paints are almost always seen in the home. Sometimes he depicts a warrior departing or returning home in his paintings too. The other theme is mythology. This is harder to determine because so many vase painters use mythology as one of their subjects. The Kleophon Painter is fairly specific with what myths he will paint about though. Usually he will paint Dionysus with his Maenads or Hephaistion. Dionysus is harder to determine because many Kraters that were used to hold wine had paintings of Dionysus on them and they were not always the Kleophon Painter’s. Hephaistion is a less common subject to paint about which makes those vases easy to pick out.

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