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Hydria (work of art)

Artwork Info

circa 320 B.C.E.
South Italian (Apulian)
circa 320 B.C.E.-
H. 31 x Max. Diam 18 1/4 in.
(78.7 x 46.4 cm)
W. (including handles) 22 in.
(55.9 cm)


Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina



The hydria, a type of vessel generally used for collecting and pouring water, has here been adapted as a monumental grave marker. Mourners could pour liquid offerings such as wine directly into the soil through the vase and a hole at its base. The decoration follows the funerary theme. The central figures stand in an elaborately adorned Ionic naiskos, a tombstone in the shape of an entrance to a shrine. Two women, possibly a mother and daughter, are attended by a servant holding a fan. Objects of everyday life complete the scene: a stool, a basket of yarn on a casket, and personal accessories, including a jewel box, ribbons, festoons, a necklace, and a stringed musical instrument. The white used to portray the figures and objects within the naiskos may have been the painter’s way of indicating that these are relief sculptures decorating the shrine. It is also possible that white was used to emphasize these important figures and provide a decorative contrast to the red used for the four mourners—three women and a man—outside the naiskos. They carry offerings: a covered dish, a flat offering dish, a jewelry box, and a brazier.

Work attributed to the Patera Painter, named for his frequent use of pateras (braziers), is characterized by broad, relaxed figures, delineated by fine, fluid strokes.

tags: family, pattern, Ancient Greece


  • Patera Painter Hydria 320 B.C.E


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