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Hydria (Water Jar)

A work made of terracotta, red-figure.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of terracotta, red-figure.


about 450 BCE


Attributed to the Chicago Painter
Greek; Athens

About this artwork

This hydria, or water jar, depicts three fully clothed and wreathed women quietly engaged in feminine activities. The subject on the left examines her face in a mirror, the central figure holds a chest, which may contain such personal effects as jewelry and cosmetics, and the woman on the right holds a large, lobed fruit.

The shape of this water jar is called a kalpis. The body and neck were raised on the potter’s wheel as a single piece. Large areas of the vase misfired, resulting in greenish discoloration. The back, sides, and two handles have been repainted in modern times to mask the blemish, which is visible below the figural scene.

A single artist, today known as the Chicago Painter, decorated this vase. He takes his name from a larger vessel, 1889.22a-b, acquired by the Art Institute in 1889, which was the first example of his work to be identified. A capable draftsman, he was active in Athens in the middle of the 5th century BC, a time of political democracy, economic prosperity, and maritime dominion. In keeping with the style of contemporary sculpture, and perhaps also wall painting, which was less frenetic than the foregoing late Archaic style, the Chicago Painter’s pensive subjects refrain from engaging their companions. Instead, they impassively focus on their individual activities.


On View, Gallery 151


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Chicago Painter


Hydria (Water Jar)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

450 BCE


terracotta, red-figure


28.2 × 29.8 × 22.8 cm (11 1/8 × 11 3/4 × 9 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Fred Eychaner in honor of Karen B. Alexander

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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