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Black-figured amphora
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This Greek amphora (wine-jar) shows the moment when Achilles, the greatest of the Greek warriors, kills Penthesilea, queen of the Amazons, during the Trojan War. Achilles’ face is masked and protected by his helmet, contrasting with Penthesilea, whose helmet is pushed back to expose her features and emphasize her vulnerability. Her spear passes harmlessly across Achilles’ chest, while his pierces her throat and draws blood. According to a later version of the story, at this very moment the eyes of the two warriors met and, too late, they fell in love.

The vase is signed, just behind Achilles’ right arm, by Exekias as potter. The painting has also been attributed to him, The spirals around each handle emphasize the amphora’s taut and rounded shape, and the figures, patterned decoration and the writing are all immaculately rendered. Exekias was perhaps the finest of all painters to use the black-figure technique.

Black-figured amphora

Made in Athens, Greece, c. 540-530 BC, and found at Vulci (now in Lazio), Italy.
Ht. 41,6 cm.

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