During the 7th century B.C., at the same time as the development of architecture and major plastics, it seems that painting of a monumental character reappeared, having in the past been an important presence in the Minoan Crete, in Thera and the palaces of the Mycenean world. According to the archaeologists who made the excavations of the temple of Poseidon in Isthmia (around 670 B.C.), the external walls of the temple were decorated with large painting compositions, of which only fragments have survived.

The first truly artistic works that we know from the Archaic period are the clay metopes from the temple of Apollo in Thermon in Aetolia. They are works of a Corinthian workshop with mythological themes. They present many similarities to the Corinthian vase painting of the period, although they cover a broader colour range, and are dated around 630 B.C. From the area of Corinth also come the few examples of great painting of the following century. In Penteskouphia Corinth, a series of clay votive plaques have been found, of the middle of the 6th century B.C., depicting various stages in potteryand are possible offerings of the potters and painters. In the Pitsa Cave, near Sicyon, some wooden paintings were found, dated around 530 B.C. They are covered with a white coating and their figures are made in polychromy. Of these paintings the best maintained depicts a sacrificial scene.

Apparently, the survival of monuments of Archaic painting in the Corinthian sphere of influence is not coincidental. According to Pliny the Elder, painting originated from Corinth or Sicyon and the most distinguished innovators were the Corinthians Cleanthes, Aridikus and Ekphantus and the Sicyonian Telephanes. In fact, Cleanthes had been attributed with the paintings of the sack of Troy and the birth of Athena, which are in the temple of Artemis Alpheionia in Pissa in Elis. All the above mentioned painters are dated at the end of the 7th century B.C. and to them are attributed various innovations, such as annotation of the figures and the appearance of linear details in their interior, since, until then, they had only been drawn with an outline. At the end of the 6th century B.C. Cimon from Cleonai must have worked, and to him are credited some improvements in the attribution of facial characteristics, in profile figures and anatomical details (joints and veins).

Cimon owed a lot to the achievements of the slightly senior Eumarus from Athens. And it is true that the only examples of painting that we know of, from outside the Corinthian influence, come from Athens. There is a clay metope from Acropolis with a representation of a hoplitodromus (around 500 B.C.) and some grave stelae from the last quarter of the 6th century B.C. The most important is that of Lyceas, of which unfortunately the colours have today been lost. We can also have some idea about the works of the end of the Archaic period from the paintings that decorate the grave monuments in Elmali in Lycia and in Poseidonia in Italy.

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