Hydria Decorated with Boukranion

Hydria Decorated with Boukranion


Hydria Decorated with Boukranion - History

Herakles
Parts of Herakles' story are probably based on the life of a historical figure, while other parts seem to be taken from the myths of other eastern Mediterranean countries. In Greek mythology, the hero Herakles personified physical strength and courage. His repeated triumphs over evil, particularly his successful completion of the 12 labors, earned him god status. Throughout the ancient Greek world, Herakles was worshiped as a protector. 1

Another example of a Greek hydria vase.

Black-Figure Hydria (Water Jar) with scenes of Herakles Painted in the manner of the Antimenes Painter
Greek, Attic, late Archaic Period, ca. 520-510 B.C.
Terracotta.
Carlos Collection of Ancient Greek Art. 1984.8 History
Herakles was the most popular hero in 6th-century Athens, even though none of his exploits was performed there. He appears frequently on Athenian vases. Herakles' popularity was due in part to his association with Athena, the patron goddess of Athens. She protected Herakles against the evil doings of Hera.

Detail of incised lines from the Hydria

In his efforts to gain control of Athens, a 6th-century tyrant named Peisistratus (pie-sis-trot-us) took advantage of the well-known relationship between Athena and Herakles. He wanted people to think of him as a modern Herakles-strong, unbeatable, and heroic, so he staged a chariot procession to the Acropolis (a-CROP-a-lus), pretending to be Herakles. Seated beside him was a woman dressed up as Athena. This event inspired many vase paintings of Herakles' journey with Athena to Olympus, including scenes of Athena with her chariot.

Antimenes Painter
The Antimenes (an-TIM-en-eez) painter painted many images of Herakles and Athena together, responding to public demand. Although many Athenian vase painters did not sign their work, art historians can identify them by certain traits that recur in their paintings. This vases's theme, extensive use of white, and composition helped art historians to identify the artist as the Antimenes painter. He signed the name Antimenes painter to only a few of the 150 vases attributed to him.

Hydria
This vase, called a hydria , was used for carrying and pouring water. The two handles on the sides were used for carrying, and the third one, on the back, was used for pouring.

Style
The painting style of this vase is called black-figure because the figures are rendered in black against the natural red color of the clay. The artist drew the figures on the surface of the vase with a clay and water solution called ENGOBE (ON-gobe), which turned black during the firing process. 2 White and dark red accents were added with separate solutions. The artist INCISED details into the engobe before firing. For example, the lines that show details in faces and clothing in this vase painting are all incised.

This hydria exemplifies the qualities of harmony and symmetry, highly prized by the Greeks. The orderly designs conform to the different parts of the vase and accentuate its well-balanced, harmonious proportions. A circle of tongue MOTIFS (moe-TEEFS) decorate the base of the vase and emphasize its function as the support of the whole vessel. A circle of rays rises out of the base and draws the viewer's attention to the paintings on the main body.

Roll over the image to see qualities of harmony and symmetry from the Hydria

Scenes
The main scene on the body of the hydria shows Athena in her chariot, presumably having just arrived from Mount Olympus to take Herakles to live with the gods. Because the Greeks thought of gods as humans, it is almost impossible to tell the difference between the two in this scene. However, Greeks familiar with their stories could readily identify the most popular figures by their ATTRIBUTES.

Athena wears armor, which identifies her as the warrior goddess and the protector of heros. She fought not for the sake of destruction but for just causes. The cloak she wears is made of serpents, a reference to the serpent-haired head of Medusa (meh-DOO-sa) given to her by Perseus (PURR-see-us) after she helped him to kill the evil gorgon. Her skin is white because vase painters typically colored all women's skin white and men's skin black.

Line Art Illustration of the Hydria
Full page printable version

Herakles is shown in profile facing Athena in the middle of the scene and is easily identifiable because he has the short spiky hair of an athlete and a short beard. The figure to the left of Herakles is Hermes (HER-meez), the messenger god, who guided Herakles on his many journeys. Hermes is identified by his pointed traveling hat and his long red beard. He is also carrying a traveling staff in his left hand. The other figures are grooms who assist Athena in harnessing the four horses to the chariot she and Herakles will soon be riding to Mount Olympus. Athena taught the mortal king of Athens, Erichtonius (Ay-rick-toh-nee-us) how to harness the first war chariots. In fact, the harnessing of the chariot horses on this vase accurately reflects the equipment and methods used in 6th century Greece.

A band of lions and wild boars surrounds the bottom of the vase. They represent the Nemean lion and the wild boar of Erymanthus that Herakles had conquered as 2 of his 12 labors. 3


Created by an artist known as the Leningrad Painter, the front of this vessel shows a young couple embracing as three other young women look on. Intimate scenes of couples kissing are unusual in Greek art, especially for women of the Athenian upper class, indicating that the participants depicted here are probably courtesans known as hetairai. Under the foot is an incised letter - upsilon, lambda or gamma - presumably a very simple trader’s mark.

This vase is decorated in the red-figure technique. Invented in Athens around 530 BCE, the red-figure technique reverses the decorative black-figure scheme. While both techniques applied a gloss, or slip made from refined clay, to all areas intended to be black, the figures here are now reserved, or left in the color of the clay, which was then intensified by the application of an orange overwash. Barely discernible are sketch marks, as well as lines of thicker gloss outlining the contours of the figures. The drapery, jewelry, and anatomy are rendered in gloss that is diluted and therefore thinner. Except for the bands of decoration—for example, the egg motif at the rim, the ivy band around the neck, and the meander pattern below the figural scene—the rest of the vase was coated with gloss. It was so thinly applied in some places that the marks of the brush are visible. Red and white details were sometimes added, and the undecorated portions of the vase were coated with gloss. They were fired in the same process as black-figure vases.


The J. Paul Getty Museum

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Chalcidian Black-Figure Hydria

Painter of the Orvieto Hydria (Greek (South Italian), active 530 - 500 B.C.) 27.9 × 23.8 × 18.4 cm (11 × 9 3/8 × 7 1/4 in.) 86.AE.49

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Object Details

Title:

Chalcidian Black-Figure Hydria

Artist/Maker:

Attributed to the Painter of the Orvieto Hydria (Greek (South Italian), active 530 - 500 B.C.)

Culture:
Place:

Chalcis, Greece (Place Created)

Medium:
Object Number:
Dimensions:

27.9 × 23.8 × 18.4 cm (11 × 9 3/8 × 7 1/4 in.)

Alternate Title:

Chalkidian Black-Figure Hydria (Alternate Title)

Previous Attribution:
Department:
Classification:
Object Type:
Object Description

Complete and unbroken hydria decorated with animal friezes. On the shoulder: four grazing goats to right alternating with four owls, with frontal heads, to left, and a fifth owl on right end. In the field between the fourth goat and owl, a rosette behind fifth owl, a large rosette. Body: Side A, confronted seated heraldic panthers, with heads turned back, between seated sphinxes in the field on each side of the first panther's head, a dot. Side B, two confronted sirens in the lower field between them a rosette with incised central circle and petals.

Provenance
Provenance
1960 - 1983

Walter Bareiss, American, born Germany, 1919 - 2007 and Molly Bareiss, American, 1920 - 2006 (Stamford, Connecticut), distributed to the Mary S. Bareiss 1983 Trust, 1983.

1983 - 1986

Mary S. Bareiss 1983 Trust, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
Greek Vases and Modern Drawings from the Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Walter Bareiss (June 13 to October 5, 1969)
Bibliography
Bibliography

Bothmer, Dietrich von, and J. Bean. Greek Vases and Modern Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bareiss. Exh. checklist, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: 1969, p. 1, no. 5.

Schauenburg, Konrad. "Zu attisch-schwarzfigurigen Schalen mit Innenfriesen." Studien zur Griechischen Vasenmalerei, Antike Kunst Supplement 7 (1970), pp. 33-46, p. 35, n. 28.

"Acquisitions/1986." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 15 (1987), pp. 160-61, no. 7.

Keck, J. Studien zur Rezeption fremder Einfluesse in der chalkidischen Keramik. Ein Betrag zur Lokalisierungsfrage. Archaeologische Studien 8. Frankfurt: 1988, pp. 52, 229-30, no. HY 3, pl. 10.

Iozzo, Mario. Ceramica "calcidese." Nuovi documenti e problemi riproposti (unpublished Ph.D. diss.), Universita Toscane Consorziate di Firenze. Siena and Pisa: 1987-1988, pp. 43, 46, 49, pls. XL-XLIII.

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Hydria with Scene of Eros

Label Text The hydria, as its name implies (compare our word "hydrate"), was used to fetch water from the well, a task entrusted to women. Two lateral handles enabled lifting the vertical one, pouring. The austere appearance conceals the complexity of the vessel's manufacture: the body was hammered from sheet metal, the handles and foot cast from nine pieces, and the plaque below the vertical handle hammered from both sides (repousse) for sharp definition. Metallurgical analysis has revealed significantly higher lead content in the cast elements (in order to make the molten metal flow into the mold) than in the hammered (where crispness and strength rather than fluidity was important). The parts were assembled using lead solder.

The plaque below the pouring handle shows Aphrodite with her arm over the shoulder of her son, Eros. She adjusts her veil in a bridal gesture. Since her husband in mythology was Hephaistos, the god of smiths and metalworkers, this scene may be read as a symbolic celebration of love.

During recent conservation, crystallized scraps of a funeral shroud for the ashes of the deceased were identified inside the vessel perhaps indicating that the vessel was created as a bride's dowry, and later consigned to a grave.
Exhibition History MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, September 2004 - January 2011
Monsters, Demons & Winged Beasts: Composite Creatures in the Ancient World, Michael C. Carlos Museum, February 5 - June 19, 2011
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, June 20, 2011 - Present
Published References MCCM Newsletter, March - May 2002.
MCCM Newsletter, September - November 2003.
Jennifer Chi and Jasper Gaunt, Greek Bronze Vessels from the Collection of Shelby White & Leon Levy (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2005), 22-23, catalogue 8.
Jasper Gaunt, Renee Stein, Kate Duffy, and Lindsay Turk, "Stylistic and Technical Study of a Bronze Hydria in the Michael C. Carlos Museum," in Common Ground: Archaeology, Art, Science, and Humanities. Proceedings of the XVIth International Congress of Classical Archaeology, Boston, August 23-26, 2003, ed Carol C. Mattusch et al. (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2006), 363-67.
Louise Pratt, Eros at the Banquet: Reviewing Greek with Plato's Symposium (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2011), 6-7.


Athena stepping into a chariot as Herakles, Apollo, a female goddess (head now missing), and Hermes look on

In ancient Greece water was collected and stored in clay jars known as hydrias, a shape distinguished by an unusual arrangement of handles—two horizontal handles at the sides for lifting and one vertical handle for pouring. Archaeological and literary evidence indicates that the water supply of Athens was greatly improved by construction of an aqueduct and new fountain houses at the end of the sixth century BCE. Several hydrias from this time depict women congregating at fountains to retrieve their household’s supply of water. Perhaps such scenes celebrated this important civic advance, a dramatic convenience compared to old-fashioned wells.

Athenian black-figure vase-painters were fond of depicting their city’s patron goddess, Athena, who is shown mounting her four-horse chariot on this vase from Mount Holyoke's collection. Other deities are nearby the sun-god Apollo plays his lyre, and the messenger Hermes leads the way wearing winged boots. Greek art illustrates gods in procession when they were on their way to a council meeting or to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. The presence of Herakles with his club and bow suggests, however, that this scene depicts the hero’s journey to Mount Olympus, where he will join the gods in their lofty palace.

In addition to the main scene on this hydria, there are two other zones with figural work: the shoulder and the frieze below the panel, sometimes called a predella. The shoulder zones of hydrias were often decorated with generic subjects, usually unrelated to the primary scene. Here are three warriors flanked by watching women. On rare occasions, a specific myth is shown, perhaps one of Herakles’ labors or an episode from the history of the Trojan War. On most hydrias the predella is filled only with a vegetal pattern of palmettes. A few painters preferred a row of wild animals, here enlivened by the addition of hunters on horseback.

In 1973 archaeologist Diana Buitron-Oliver attributed this hydria to the hand of the so-called Eye-Siren Painter. Most Greek vases do not have artist signatures, but stylistic idiosyncrasies allow experts to determine which may have been painted by the same person. The Eye-Siren Painter is named after an amphora in the British Museum (B215) that features two sirens (birds with human heads) with eyes for bodies, a curiosity first seen in the work of the Amasis Painter, a major black-figure artist. Dr. Buitron-Oliver believed similarities between the Mount Holyoke hydria and the London amphora were close enough to allow identification of the painter.

Label texts by Pamela J. Russell, Ph. D., Andrew W. Mellon Coordinator of College Programs, Mead Art Museum, Amherst College.

John Boardman, Athenian Black Figure Vases: A Handbook. London: Thames and Hudson, 1974.

John M. Camp, The Archaeology of Athens. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.

Thomas H. Carpenter, Art and Myth in Ancient Greece: A Handbook. New Haven: Thames and Hudson, 1991.


Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum | Bush-Reisinger Museum | Arthur M. Sackler Museum

View this object's location on our interactive map Physical Descriptions Medium Bronze, traces of silvering and possible gilding Technique Cast, lost-wax process Dimensions h. 41.9 cm x diam. 28.5 cm (37 cm in diam. with handles) (16 1/2 x 11 1/4 in. 14 9/16 in diam. with handles) Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Artax 1
Alloy: Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin
Other Elements: lead, iron, arsenic
Comments: Silvering and possible gilding were detected on the decorative elements.

Technical Observations: The raised portion of the vessel is mostly covered with green and underlying red corrosion products, some in the form of deep-seated warts. However, about one-fourth of the surface is extremely well preserved, with bright metal showing through a thin brown oxide layer, especially at the rim and mouth. The handle and foot castings are more deeply corroded, and small losses show that the mineralization passes completely through the casting in these areas. Brown burial accretions are present on both the vessel and the attached castings.

The surface is well preserved in many areas but deeply corroded in others, with two holes (c. 2 x 3 cm) in the middle of the sides of the vessel. These are filled with a modern resin, visible as a large red blob at the interior. The interior otherwise shows a uniform layer of green corrosion products without the warts visible on the exterior. Portions of the thinner periphery of the cast handles are lost and one loss (1 x 3 cm) in the volutes at the edge of the center handle is restored with a resin. The two side handles have been reattached with a threaded rod secured by nuts at the interior.

Hammer marks are visible at the interior, especially at the mouth, and a deep centering punch mark (2 mm in diameter) at the bottom indicates the vessel was formed using a raising process. The handles and foot are cast, with finer details added by cold working using punches and a tracer tool. The castings each correspond perfectly to faint incised lines pre-dating the surface corrosion, which strongly suggests that they do in fact belong to this vessel. In a few areas, there is a vague correspondence in the corrosion products on the casting and the vessel, which further reinforces the match. Some lead residue at two spots point to the use of lead as the original means of attaching the castings. A gap between the cast foot and the vessel at its bottom, now filled with a modern resin, is the only area imperfectly matched. This is understandable as part of the original fabrication in this less visible location. The volute (3 mm in diameter) centers on either side of the center handle decoration, and the entire chest of the siren shows a thin wash of a white metal. This was analyzed by XRF and determined to be silver. Mercury was detected, but at such a low level that a mercury-silver amalgam process is not clearly indicated.

Provenance John Edward Taylor Collection, London, (by 1912). [Christie’s, July 1, 1912, lot 367]. H. Oppenheimer collection, London, sold [through Christie’s, London, July 22-23, 1936, lot 126] sold [to the International Studio Art Corp. (William Randolph Hearst), Oct. 24, 1940], sold [through J. Brummer Gallery, New York, 1940-1949, inv. no. N4736], sold to Fogg Art Museum, 1949. Acquisition and Rights Credit Line Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Grace Nichols Strong Memorial Fund Accession Year 1949 Object Number 1949.89 Division Asian and Mediterranean Art Contact [email protected] The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request. Descriptions

Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This three-handled water jar, or hydria, is of the kalpis type, which has a continuous curving profile and originated c. 500 BCE, perhaps in Athens. The body was hammered out of a single sheet of bronze to which the cast portions—three handles, the foot, and the rim—were joined with solder. The surface of the vessel is largely a greenish gold, which is reminiscent of its original color, although there are extensive areas of a darker greenish gray.

The rim (15.7 cm in diameter) features an overhanging band of egg-and-dart molding. Each egg is surrounded by a single raised ridge. Tiny beads encircle the outside of the flattened rim. The foot (15.5 cm in diameter) displays a concave band of tongues, in between each of which is a narrower convex tongue.

The side handles, decorated with four concave flutes with rounded ends, rise from circular plates decorated with concave tongues. The vertical handle, circular in section, bears five flutes separated by narrow ridges divided by fine grooves. The top rises from a base plate situated beneath the rim, identical with the plates of the side handles.

The base plate is a siren, whose sickle-shaped wings rise up out of her torso and curve inward symmetrically on either side of her head. Each individual feather, rendered in relief, has a fine incised median line, on either side of which are tiny incisions. The siren’s body is also covered with finely incised scales, which have a median line flanked by tiny incisions. The siren’s feet, each bearing three claws, hang vertically from raised edges below the scales and grasp an oval object, from which a seven-petalled palmette, with concave leaves, projects downward.

Above the palmette are two antithetical, concave S-shaped volutes, the smaller ends of which curl under the siren’s wings. The spaces between the volutes, the wings, and the tendrils are left open. The volutes’ centers are filled with small hemispherical oculi, which may be silver (1). Two curls descend in relief, curving symmetrically over the shoulders of the siren.

This hydria belongs to a class of vessels with sirens adorning the base plate of the vertical handles (2). They begin c. 480 BCE and continue throughout the rest of the fifth century, perhaps even into the first quarter of the fourth century. The shape of the Harvard hydria suggests that it dates between 430 and 400 BCE. The only intact Greek bronze vessel in the Harvard Art Museums' collection, this vase was used to carry and pour water, as the name hydria implies. Its funerary significance may be inferred from the presence of the siren at the base of this handle. Such expensive metal vases were given as prizes in athletic contests and often later contained the cremated ashes of their owners. Such use probably explains the unusually fine state of preservation of this hydria. Harvard's hydria represents the highest quality of late Classical Greek metalwork.

1. For other examples of vessels with silver in the volutes, see E. D. Reeder, Scythian Gold: Treasures from Ancient Ukraine, exh. cat., The Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore, 1999) 193-94, no. 82 and J. M. Padgett, The Centaur’s Smile, exh. cat., Princeton University Art Museum (New Haven, 2003) no. 80.

2. For comparison, see D. von Bothmer, “Bronze Hydriai,” Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 13.6 (1955): 193-200, esp. 197 I. Kouleiman­ē-Vokotopoulou, Chalkai Korinthiourgeis prochoi: Symvolē eis tēn meletēn tēs archaias Hellēnikēs chalkourgias (Athens, 1975) [in Greek] ead., “Ē hydria tēs Aineias,” in Amētos: Timētikos tomos gia ton kathēgētē Manolē Andronikos 2, eds. M. A. Tiverios, S. Drougou, and Ch. Saatsoglou-Paliadelē (Thessaloniki, 1987) 157-69, esp. pls. 24-26 [in Greek] L. I. Marangou, Ancient Greek Art: The N. P. Goulandris Collection (Athens, 1985), 162-63 and M. True and K. Hamma, eds., A Passion for Antiquities: Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu Cleveland Museum of Art (Malibu, 1994) 68-70, no. 24.

John Edward Taylor Collection of Works of Art, auct. cat., Christie, Manson and Woods, Ltd. (London, 1912), p. 92, no. 367.

Catalog of the collection of Egyptian and Roman antiquities, cameos and intaglios formed by the late Henry Oppenheimer, auct. cat., William Clowes and Sons, Ltd. (London, 1936), p. 41, no. 126.

The Notable Art Collection Belonging to the estate of the late Joseph Brummer, auct. cat., Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc. (New York, NY, April 20 1940-April 23 1949), p. 45, no. 185.

George M. A. Hanfmann, Greek Art and Life, An Exhibition Catalogue, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1950), no. 15.

Erika Zwierlein-Diehl, Die Hydria: Formgeschichte und Verwendung im Kult des Altertums, Verlag Philipp von Zabern (Mainz, 1964), p. 35ff, 219, no. B147.

David Gordon Mitten and Suzannah F. Doeringer, Master Bronzes from the Classical World, exh. cat., Verlag Philipp von Zabern (Mainz am Rhein, Germany, 1967), p. 108, no. 108.

Walters Art Gallery, Greek and Roman Metalware: A Loan Exhibition, February 14 - April 14, 1976, exh. cat., Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore, MD, 1976), no. 18.

David Gordon Mitten and Amy Brauer, Dialogue with Antiquity, The Curatorial Achievement of George M. A. Hanfmann, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1982), p. 14, no. 39.

Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), p. 112, no. 125, ill.

Amy Sowder, "Greek Bronze Hydriai" (2009), Emory University, (Ph.D. diss.), p. 189, 543, no. 16.21.

Susanne Ebbinghaus, "Men of Bronze--Cups of Bronze: Bronze in the Iron Age", Ancient Bronzes through a Modern Lens: Introductory Essays on the Study of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes, ed. Susanne Ebbinghaus, Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2014), 146-69, pp. 164-65, fig. 7.10.

Susanne Ebbinghaus, ed., Ancient Bronzes through a Modern Lens: Introductory Essays on the Study of Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes, Harvard Art Museum/Yale University Press (Cambridge, MA, 2014), pp. 54, 60, 66, 76, 164-165, fig. 7.10

Dialogue with Antiquity: The Curatorial Achievement of George M.A. Hanfmann, Fogg Art Museum, 05/07/1982 - 06/26/1982

Master Bronzes from the Classical World, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 12/04/1967 - 01/23/1968 City Art Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis, 03/01/1968 - 04/13/1968 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 05/08/1968 - 06/30/1968

Greek and Roman Metalware: A Loan Exhibition, Walters Art Gallery, 02/14/1976 - 04/14/1976

32Q: 3400 Greek, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Art Talk: The Scary Truth about Ancient Sirens

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1 The vase was formerly in the Caputi Collection at Ruvo (no. 278) it passed into the collection of the Marchese De Luca Resta in Rome, then to Scaretti (Rome), and is now in the Torno Collection in Milan. It is by the Leningrad , painter, ARV 376 , 61 .Google Scholar Annali 1876, pl. D–E, whence F.R. ii 307, Richter , Craft , 71 Google Scholar , ML 28, 110, and Cloché , , Classes , pl. 21 , 1.Google Scholar A photograph of the scene appears in the History of Technology ii, pl. 16, and Richter , , Greek Art , 307 .Google Scholar It is described and discussed in Potter and Painter 11 ff. (= Proceedings of the British Academy xxx (1944) 93 ff.). I am greatly indebted to Professors C. M. Robertson, A. D. Trendall, and T. B. L. Webster for their helpful criticism and suggestions.

2 As Beazley noted, the line that in the drawing runs from the foot of the kantharos to the lap of the artist does not appear in the original. In the drawing the artist's brush is not clearly distinguished, and the handle supports are missing from the kantharos on the floor.


Hydria Decorated with Boukranion - History

Attic red-figure hydria, vase painting attributed to Polygnotos

National Archaeological Museum

Vase and Minor Arts Collection, inv. no A14983

Provenance: Unknown (acquisition)

Dimensions: Height: 46 cm

Date: 450-445 BC

Location of object within the exhibition: Vase Collection, Room 55 , Showcase 114

The shoulder of the hydria is decorated with themes inspired by Iliou Persis (The Sack of Ilium)[1]. This poem does not survive, yet through serendipity the content of the lost epics of the Trojan Cycle is preserved —albeit briefly— in the work of the grammatician or philosopher Proclus[2]. The vase depicts the sacrilege committed by Ajax who, having transgressed the human moral standards, rapes Cassandra, the beautiful daughter of Priam, inside the temple of the goddess Athena where she sought refuge as a supplicant. Unfortunately, only the figure of the Locrian hero is fragmentarily preserved from the scene.

Next to him Menelaus encounters after twenty years beautiful Helen for the sake of whom so many Achaeans died. The Spartan king has sworn to kill her. At the sight of her, determined to take revenge for all those unnecessary deaths of his comrades he pulls his sword. However, as he meets her gaze the man drops his sword. He continues to pursue her though, as relentlessly as before, yet now as a lover who claims her from the start , while the woman is desperately trying to escape taking refuge together with two companions in an altar .

The representation of this vase differentiates from the widespread version of the myth[3], according to which when the couple met again, Helen, fearless before her enraged husband, remaining silent, simply exposed her breasts. Once again Menelaus could not resist her beauty. From pursuer he turned again into her captive and surrendered himself to her, letting his sword drop.

Suggested bibliography:

Kroh, P., Λεξικό αρχαίων συγγραφέων, s.v. Πρόκλος γραμματικός, ed. USP, 1996.

Τζεδάκις, Γ., ed. Από τη Μήδεια στη Σαπφώ. Ανυπότακτες γυναίκες στην αρχαία Ελλάδα, Αθήνα, 1995, p. 137.

Κακριδής, Ι. Θ. (ed.), Ελληνική Μυθολογία , Vol. 5, Αθήνα, 1987.

LIMC IV, 1 (1988), p. 543 (s.v. Helene, no 269).

[1] His creator is considered to be the poet of the 7 th century B.C. Arktinus of Miletus.

[2] This is Proclus, the Neoplatonic philosopher of the 5th A.D. century or Eutychius Proclus, grammarian of the 2 nd A.D. century. His work is called Selections of Chrestomathy grammar and it is the only work of antiquity that presents, albeit in a summary manner, the content of the lost epics of the Trojan circle.

[3] According to one version of the myth, Helen, in order to escape the just wrath of her husband, takes refuge in the temple of Aphrodite (Ibycus fragment 15 Ρ). In another version, Menelaus believes that it was not his wife’s fault that Paris abducted her and he immediately reconciles with her («The Sack of Ilium» Proclus 92, Apollodorus, Epitome 5, 22). In Stesichorus, it is the Achaeans that decide to sentence her to death by stoning, when though they set eyes on her, the stones fall out of their hands (fragment 24 Ρ).


Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum | Bush-Reisinger Museum | Arthur M. Sackler Museum

This water jar speaks to its own function: it illustrates the role of water jars in funerary ritual, which included use as ash urns. Three female mourners tear at their short-cropped hair and carry a basket with small lekythoi — oil flasks of the type seen on the left — and branches and ribbons to decorate a body or tomb. In ancient Greece, lamenting the dead was a woman’s task and even a profession. This vessel was reportedly found in a grave in Attica the restoration does not hide its breaks and losses, which may have occurred when it was deposited as a tomb offering or smashed on a pyre.

Identification and Creation Object Number 1960.341 People The Painter of the Berlin Hydria, Greek
Title Hydria (water jar): Mourning Women Other Titles Alternate Title: Red-figure Hydria (Kalpis): Three Mourning Women Classification Vessels Work Type vessel Date c. 460-450 BCE Places Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Vari (Attica) Period Classical period, Early Culture Greek Persistent Link https://hvrd.art/o/290759 Location Level 3, Room 3410, South Arcade

View this object's location on our interactive map Physical Descriptions Medium Terracotta Technique Red-figure Dimensions 39.9 cm h x 30.8 cm diam. (15 11/16 x 11 15/16 in.) Provenance David M. Robinson, Baltimore, MD, (by 1937-1958), bequest to Fogg Art Museum, 1960. State, Edition, Standard Reference Number Standard Reference Number Beazley Archive Database #207134 Acquisition and Rights Credit Line Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of David M. Robinson Accession Year 1960 Object Number 1960.341 Division Asian and Mediterranean Art Contact [email protected] The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request. Descriptions Description Funerary scene with three women and a hydria. One carries a tray of lekythoi. Exhibition History

The David Moore Robinson Bequest of Classical Art and Antiquities: A Special Exhibition, Fogg Art Museum, 05/01/1961 - 09/20/1961

Pandora's Box: Women in Classical Greece, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 11/05/1995 - 01/07/1996 Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, 02/04/1996 - 03/31/1996 Antikenmuseum und Sammlung Ludwig, Basel, 04/28/1996 - 06/23/1996

HAA132e The Ideal of the Everyday in Greek Art (S427) Spring 2012, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 05/12/2012

32Q: 3410 South Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at [email protected]

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