Sosias Bowl

This bowl is one of the most illustrious masterpieces of painted vases from Athens. It shows a scene of deepest friendship during the Trojan War. Achilles, the greatest hero of the Greeks, bandages the arm of his friend Patroclus. He appears to have been injured by the arrow leaning against the edge to his left. Achilles has opened the epaulet of Patroclus' armour. Patroclus turns his head away, his mouth partially open in pain. He has taken off his helmet and his curls spill out from under a padded cap of felt. His right leg is bent in front of him; his left leg is stretched out to the very edge of the painting.

The bowl is quite extraordinary in its wonderful richness of detail coupled with the artistic skill evident in the portrayal of the scene. For instance, the way the painter renders perspective by making Patroclus' bent leg shorter than the other one. But above all, for the first time in the history of Greek vase painting, he has painted the figures' eyes in profile. For centuries before that, the eyes were always shown in front view, even when the figures were in profile. To understand how revolutionary that technique was, we need to look no further than the outside of the bowl, where the artist hasn't used it in depicting Heracles' entry into Olympus.

The bowl was done in about 500 B.C., during the transitional period from ancient to classical art. We don't know who painted it. It is signed on the base only by the potter, Sosias. Accordingly, the painter is now known as the "Sosias painter".