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Bell Krater (Mixing Bowl)

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


Manner of the Niobid Painter
Greek; Athens

About this artwork

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.


Currently Off View


Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium


Ancient Greek


Bell Krater (Mixing Bowl)


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.

450 BCE


terracotta, red-figure


38.4 × 41.2 cm (15 1/8 × 16 1/4 in.); Diam.: 41.2 cm (16 1/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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