Head and Shoulders of Ajax

Exekias (a Greek name) or Execias (Latinization) was an ancient Greek vase-painter and potter, who worked between approximately 550 BC - 525 BC at Athens. The pottery, however, was exported to other regions, such as Etruria. Exekias worked mainly with the technique called black-figure. It was only used for a relatively short time and dates his floruit. He is considered the best or one of the best of the black-figure vase painters.


The works of Exekias are distinguished by their grand compositions, precise draughtsmanship and subtle characterisation, transcending the inherent limitations of the black-figure technique. As one historian of Greek art has said,

"the hallmark of his style is a near statuesque dignity which brings vase painting for the first time close to claiming a place as a major art" (John Boardman, Athenian Black Figure Vases, 1974).

He was an innovative painter and potter, experimenting with new shapes and devising unusual techniques such as a coral-red wash to enhance colour.

Ajax and Achilles playing a game, an invention of Exekias, undocumented in literature

Eleven signed works by Exekias have survived and approximately another 25 vessels and plaques have been attributed to him. His best-known work is an amphora, now on display in the Vatican Museums in Rome, which depicts Ajax and Achilles playing a game at Troy; it is inscribed with the words

"Eksekias egraphse kapoiese me"
"Exekias made and decorated me."

Other works also showed scenes from the , J. Paul Getty Trust Publications (May, 1999) ISBN: 0892364653

  • John Boardman , , Thames & Hudson; Reprint edition (February, 1985) ISBN: 0500201382
  • John Boardman , ,Thames & Hudson (May, 1998) ISBN: 0500203091
  • John Boardman, , Thames & Hudson (December 1989)

    See also

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