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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.


470-460 BCE


Attributed to The Leningrad Painter
Greek; Athens

About this artwork

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.


On View, Gallery 151


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Leningrad Painter


Hydria (Water Jar)


Athens (Object made in)

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.

470 BCE–460 BCE


terracotta, red-figure


42.4 × 37.6 × 31.8 cm (16 3/4 × 14 3/4 × 12 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson through The Antiquarian Society

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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