About this artwork
Ancient artists frequently depicted events from the life of the demigod Herakles, especially the Twelve Labors he had to complete to attain immortality. On this amphora (storage jar) the great hero completes his first assignment—to kill a lion with an invincible hide that was terrorizing the village of Nemea. Here the contest has been decided; Herakles strangles the lion, whose jaws he has pried open with his bare hands. To the right stand Athena and Hermes; on the other stand a nymph and Iolaos, Herakles’s nephew and companion. In subsequent episodes, Herakles often wears the lion’s pelt, either as a headdress or over his arm, as a protective cloak.
These vases were used for the transport and storage of items such as wine and olives, and they were given as prizes in athletic competitions. Many vases have been damaged, either in antiquity or in modern times, and repaired. However, this amphora remains intact, with only a few losses, such as the chips on the rim, and some surface abrasion. The vivid white gloss that highlights the women’s skin and the shield is especially well preserved.
- Ancient Greek
- Belly-Amphora (Storage Jar)
- 550 BC–540 BC
- terracotta, decorated in the black-figure technique
- 28.2 × 21.6 × 19 cm (10 3/4 × 8 1/2 × 7 1/2 in.)
- Katherine K. Adler Memorial Fund