NAMA Attic black-figure amphora.JPG
Attic black-figure amphora. Late work of the vase-painter, Sophilos, ca. 580 B.C. On the neck is Hermes, between Sphinxes. On the body are zones decorated with a winged Artemis, animals, florals, sphinxes, and geese. Found at Marathon, in the tumulus of the Athenians (490 B.C.).

Before 590 BC
Probably Athens
DiedAround 570 BC
Known forCeramics manufacturer and painter
Notable work
37 vessels are ascribed to him, mostly amphorae, '’dinoi’’, kraters, as well as three pinakes
MovementBlack-figure style
Sophilos' signature: "sofilos me grafsen" (“Sophilos painted me”)

Sophilos (Ancient Greek: Σώφιλος; active about 590 – 570 BC) was an Attic potter and vase painter in the black-figure style. Sophilos is the oldest Attic vase painter so far to be known by his true name. Fragments of two wine basins (dinoi) in Athens are signed by him, indicating that he both potted and painted them. In total, 37 vessels are ascribed to him, mostly amphorae, dinoi, kraters, as well as three pinakes. Apart from his work for the domestic market, he was also one of the masters of major significance in the process of supplanting the dominance of Corinthian vase painting in the markets of Etruria, and Southern Italy, the most important export area for Greek vases. His works were exported as far as the Black Sea region, Syria and Egypt (Naukratis).

He was one of the first painters to use additional colours at a grand scale, thus increasing the optical and artistic distinction between Corinthian and Attic vase painting. While he was conservative and traditionalist in terms of the ornamentation and animal figures he used, his intervening figural scenes, mostly of mythological motifs, were entirely innovative. He broke up established standard scenes, had figures act individually, and found clever and unconventional new ways of structuring the narrative. As his artistic style progressed, he increasingly pushed ornamental designs into the margin, as his figural scenes became more and more important. Stylistically, his work is close to that of the late Gorgon Painter, whose style he developed further, to be continued later by Klitias, and culminate in the François vase.

In spite of his innovative pictorial compositions and his talent to constantly invent new scenes; his drawing style was usually not very accurate. The overall impact of his works is hardly diminished by that.

Works (Selection)

Neck amphora 991 • Chalice krater 995 • Neck amphora 1036 • Fragment of a '’dinos’’ 15499
Belly amphora F 1683 (lost 1945)
Tripod kothon98.915
’’Dinos’’ 1971.11-11


  • John Beazley: Attic Black-Figure Vase-Painters, Oxford 1956, p. 37-42.
  • Güven Bakır: Sophilos. Ein Beitrag zu seinem Stil. Mainz 1981. ISBN 3-8053-0446-3
  • Künstlerlexikon der Antike II (2004) p. 407-408 s.v. Sophilos (I) (Bettina Kreuzer)

See also