Exekias (Ἐξηκίας; signature ΕΧΣΕΚΙΑΣ, Exsekias) was a potter and vase painter in Athens, active around 550-525 BC. He is considered to be the best black-figure painter. His signature as painter and potter has been found on two vases, and another ten as potter only. Around 30 vases are attributed to him. He is also credited with inventing new pottery shapes: the calyx-krater and the standard "type A" cup.
He taught the Andokides Painter, who with Psiax
, is among those credited with the invention of red-figure painting.
His most famous work is a signed black-figure amphora, dated circa 530 BC, showing Ajax and Achilles playing a board game (with the return of the Dioskouroi on the reverse), in the Gregorian Museum of Etruscan Art, Vatican Museums, Rome. Inv. No. 16757 (344). The image is still mass-reproduced on ceramics today and sold in tourist shops across Italy and Greece (see Now wait for last month
at The Cheshire Cat Blog). See depictions of this scene by other vase painters on the Homer page
Other works attributed to Exekias include:
The "Dionysus Cup", 540-530 BC, a black-figure Type A kylix (an eye-cup) decorated on the inside with a painting of Dionysus in a ship surrounded by dolphins. signed on the foot ΕΧΣΕΚΙΑΣ ΕΠΟΕΣΕ (Exsekias made it). Staatliche Antikensammlungen, Munich. Inv. No. 2044.
A black-figure neck-amphora, signed by Exekias as potter, with Achilles killing the Amazon queen Penthesileia, and Ajax preparing his suicide. British Museum. Inv. No. GR 1849.5-18.10 (Vase B209).