About This Artwork

Greek; Athens
Manner of the Niobid Painter

Bell Krater (Mixing Bowl), about 450 BC

Terra-cotta, decorated in the red-figure technique
H. 38.4 cm (15 1/8 in.); diam. 41.2 cm (16 1/4 in.)

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson, 1922.2197

This type of krater, or bowl for mixing wine and water, takes its name from the resemblance of its shape to an inverted bell. In the center stands a warrior, whose long spear breaks the picture plane into two parts. Since he hands his helmet, decorated with a leaping dolphin, to a woman wearing a diadem, or crown, who stands before him, he may be returning from battle. Behind him, another woman extends her hand as if to take his shield, which bears the image of a lion, its tongue extended.

This scene is believed to depict Achilles, the great Greek warrior of the Trojan War, at home with his mother, Thetis, her father, and Nereus, and a Nereid, or sea nymph. His helmet pushed back, Achilles is seated before a column, holding a spear in one hand and a libation, or offering, bowl in the other. Before him, Thetis holds an oinochoe, or pitcher, from which she has filled or is about to fill his bowl, while also supporting her son’s shield. Nereus looks on from the right, and a Nereid, a long fillet in her hand, stands behind him. His greaves, or shin protectors, are stored on a shelf in the background.

—Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The Art Institute of Chicago, Kraft Education Center Gallery, 1992 - 1996

A Case for Wine: From King Tut to Today
July 11 – September 20, 2009. Regenstein Hall, The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago, Ancient Art Galleries, Gallery 155, 1996 - July, 2009 and September, 2009 - February 2012.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Of Gods and Glamour: The Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art, Gallery 151, November 11, 2012 - present.

Publication History

Karen B. Alexander, "From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago," in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, by Karen Manchester (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012), p. 38.

S.B. Matheson, “Beardless, Armed, and Barefoot: Ephebes, Warriors, and Ritual on Athenian Vases”, in D. Yatromanolakis (ed.), An Archaeology of Representations, Ancient Greek Vase-Painting and contemporary Methodologies (Athens 2009), pp. 402 and 404, fig. 8.

M. Prange, Der Niobidenmaler und seine Werkstatt (Frankfurt 1989), pp. 26-7, 35 and 212 no. GN 35.

E. Epifanio, “Un cratere Imerese dell’officina del Pittore dei Niobidi”, in L. Beschi, G. Pugliese Carratelli, G. Rizza and S. Settis (eds.), Aparchai. Nuove ricerche e studi sulla Magna Grecia in onore di P.E. Arias (Pisa 1982) 347-56, pl. 90, 1.

W.G. Moon and L. Berge, Greek Vase-Painting in Midwestern Collections (Chicago 1979), pp. 208-10, no. 117.

J.D. Beazley, Attic Red-Figure Vase-Painters, vol. II (The Clarendon Press, 1963), p. 610, no. 21.

E. Simon, Opfernde Götter (Berlin, 1953), p. 102 n. 67.

T.B.L. Webster, Der Niobidmaler (Leipzig, 1935), p. 21, no. 15c, pl. 192.

Daniel C. Rich, "Five Red-Figured Vases in the Art Institute of Chicago," American Journal of Archaeology 34 (1930), pp. 171-6 (ill.).

Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 16 (1922), pp. 59 and 63.

W. Fröhner, Collection van Branteghem: Vases peints et terre cuites antiques (Paris, 1892), no. 86.

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