Pioneer Group

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Krater by Euphronios.

The Pioneer Group were a number of red-figure vase painters working in Kerameikos or the potters' quarter of Athens around the beginning of the 5th century BCE. Characterized by John Boardman as perhaps the first conscious art movement in the western tradition, the group comprised the painters Euphronios, Euthymides, Smikros, Hypsias, the 'Dikaios Painter' and Phintias. We can credit John Beazley with first identifying these artists as a coherent group, though no documentary evidence remains of them; everything we know about them consists of their work itself.

The pioneer group were not innovators of the red-figure technique but rather late adopters of the practice developed by such bilingual painters as Andokides and Psiax. Coming some 10 years after the earliest work in the technique Euphronios's first works are thought to have been produced circa 520 BCE. As a group their work makes frequent reference to one another, often in a playful competitive spirit; Euthymides boasts on one of his signed pots "hos oudepote Euphronios" – "as never Euphronios" (Munich 2307). Their work is distinctive for its simple rendering of dress, bold handling of anatomy, experimental use of foreshortening and a thematic preference for representations of symposia.


  • R. T. Neer. Styles and Politics in Athenian Vase Painting, the Craft of Democracy circa 530 to 470 BCE. Cup, 2002.
  • John Boardman. Athenian Red Figure Vases: The Archaic Period: A Handbook. London: Thames and Hudson, 1975.