Whatever their artistic and historical value though, the vast majority of Greek vases, despite now being dusty museum pieces, were actually meant for everyday use and, to paraphrase Arthur Lane, it is perhaps worth remembering that standing on a stone pavement and drenched with water, they would have once gleamed in the Mediterranean sun.
A third firing, again with good ventilation, re-reddened the clay of the pot whilst the painted areas, now protected by a thin wash, kept their original colouring.
This complicated process obviously required excellent timing from the potter so as not to spoil the vase with unseemly discolouring.
The majority of pottery workers would have been paid no more than any other manual labourer and a good vase probably cost only a day’s wages.
Certainly though, a few artists would have been in great demand and their goods were sold not only locally but far and wide throughout the Mediterranean.
Many individual potters and less frequently, painters, have been identified with certainty through their signatures (most commonly as “..this”) although the majority of Greek vases are unsigned. Beazley’s systematic and comprehensive cataloguing of Greek pottery has also allowed for the study of its evolution in techniques, designs, and decoration.