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How to Read Greek Vases

Item# 80-006753 

Price: $25.00
Member Price: $22.50


  • Publisher: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Pages: 176
  • Illustrations: 214 in full color, including 4 maps
  • Dimensions: 8'' x 10 1/2''
  • Format: Paperback
  • Author:
  • ISBN: 9780300155235



By Joan R. Mertens

This handsomely illustrated volume is the second in a series of publications aimed at giving a broad audience deeper insight into the extensive collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Museum is famed for is Greek vases. Joan R. Mertens, Curator in the Department of Greek and Roman Art at the Metropolitan, has chosen thirty-five notable examples. They reveal the variety and vitality of the refined forms and masterfully rendered scenes that characterize these works. And they demonstrate the interrelation of function, shape, techniques, and subject matter that is key to understanding the rich language of Greek vases. The introduction provides valuable background information, and the entries delve into the features of each vase, incorporating brilliant color illustrations, including many arresting details.

Greek vases served specific utilitarian functions, and they also afforded outstanding artists, some of whom signed their work, a medium for depicting both the details of daily existence and aspects of their gods, goddesses, and heroes. We see the garments, implements, athletic competitions, and marriage and funerary rituals of Greeks who lived from the seventh through the fourth century B.C. We see their spear, and shield, and the great hero Herakles, from his first exploit as a baby to his elevation as an immortal at the end of his earthly life.

The exceptional group of works assembled in this volume conveys the extent to which the culture of ancient Greece is still apparent today. Urns and jars inspired by Greek models are a staple in all types of public and private spaces. The meander patterns, palmettes, and other florals that adorn ancient vases recur in all kinds of modern objects. And the concept of the hero, or superman, first formulated and given visual form in ancient Greece is integral to Western culture.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

Mertens establishes a rapport with the reader excellent color illustrations
Times Literary Supplement

excellent introductory section
The book draws comparisons with other media and contexts to broaden our understanding of what were looking at.
The World of Interiors

finely illustrated useful introduction
The Anglo-Hellenic Review

This beautifully produced and elegantly written book provides a superb introduction to the appreciation of Greek vases by one of the foremost authorities on the subject the focus of the discussions is a personal one, and the narrative should be seen as a kind of extended gallery talk one comes away feeling that one has been reading something closer to a series of intricate poems than a group of scholarly essays.
American Journal of Archaeology

How to read Greek vases will serve not only visitors to the Met but anyone keen to learn about this important aspect of Greek art and culture.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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