The majestic Fran�ois Vase is one of the masterpieces of Archaic Greek art. This elaborate work of art is a celebration of Greek mythology - it features a series of scenes of gods, goddesses, heroes, and monsters, all rendered in exquisite detail by the painter Kleitias (who, it should be noted, decorated this vase in the black-figure style).
The vase on which these mythological scenes have been rendered is a shape known as a volute krater (Ergotimos, incidentally, takes credit for creating this krater). In ancient Greece, kraters were used to mix water and wine, and these vessels were often present at social gatherings and symposia. There is some speculation that this particular krater was connected to an Athenian wedding. And this theory makes even more sense when we consider the meaning of the painted scenes.
Art historians have determined that the main subject depicted on the Fran�ois Vase is the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. And while this mythological marriage is the focus, it is only one aspect of the artistic program. For the vase includes a myriad of images of Greek gods and goddesses. These images are accompanied by helpful inscriptions that identify a specific god or goddess by name. In addition, there are also some other intriguing characters from Greek mythology. Some notable guests on the vase include the Athenian hero Theseus and the legendary creature known as the Sphinx.
Learn more about the legendary gods, heroes, and monsters of Greek mythology at Mythography.
The Art and Culture of Early Greece
Professor Jeffrey M. Hurwit has written a wonderfully engaging book about the art, literature, and poetry of early Greece. Scholars and students alike should enjoy this book. Images of many works of ancient Greek art and an extensive glossary make this an excellent resource.
This beautifully illustrated book (from the Phaidon Art and Ideas series and written by Nigel Spivey) covers the subject of ancient Greek art brilliantly.