The black-figure technique of ancient Greek vase-painting was developed between the 7th-5th centuries BC. The principal centres for this style were initially Corinth, then Athens. Other important production sites were Boeotia, Laconia and in the Greek colonies of southern Italy, where individual styles developed which catered for the Etruscan market.
Attica, however, with Athens at its centre, became the most famous centre for black-figure painting, with over 20,000 surviving vases in this style. Potters in Attica used the excellent iron-rich clay found in the area. The period between 560BC and the inception of red-figure pottery in 530-20BC is considered to be the pinnacle of Athenian black-figure painting. To this period belongs the Amasis Painter and Exekias, the two masters of the technique.
The iconography on black-figure vases consists largely of mythological scenes: gods and heroes predominated, with Herakles and Dionysos firm favourites, along with episodes from the Trojan Cycle.