The J. Paul Getty Museum

Attic Black-Figure Olpe

Object Details


Attic Black-Figure Olpe


Attributed to Chiusi Painter (Greek, active 520 - 510 B.C.)


Greek (Attic)


Athens, Greece (Place Created)


about 510 B.C.



Object Number:



14 × 13.2 cm (5 1/2 × 5 3/16 in.)

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Object Description

The Greek hero Herakles wrestles Triton, a fish-tailed being, on this Athenian black-figure olpe or pitcher. Herakles, identified by his lionskin, stands astride Triton, who writhes away from the hero, trying to break his grip. The figures are so closely intertwined that it is difficult to tell them apart. The battle of Herakles and Triton first appeared in Greek art about 565 B.C. and was especially popular in the period from about 530 to 510 B.C. No ancient author recorded the story of Herakles and Triton. This lack of literary sources for the depiction and the fact that it appears almost exclusively in Athenian art has led some to look for a special meaning in the scene. The mythological battle may have had symbolic political significance for the Athenians. The tyrants who ruled Athens in this period,  Peisistratos and his sons, may have adopted Herakles as their symbol; and the scene may refer to a naval victory of Athens over her neighboring enemy, the city-state of  Megara.

by 1982 - 1993

Carl W. Hirschmann [sold, Greek Vases from the Hirschman Collection: The Property of a Private Trust, Sotheby's, London, December 9, 1993, lot 26.]

- 1996

Phoenix Ancient Art S.A. (Geneva, Switzerland), sold to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, 1996.


Barbara Fleischman and Lawrence Fleischman, American, 1925 - 1997 (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996.

Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004

Bloesch, Hansjörg, ed. Greek Vases from The Hirschmann Collection. (Zürich : H. Rohr, 1982), pp. 54-55, 100, ill.

Clark, Andrew J. Attic Black-figured Olpai and Oinochoai. Ph.D. diss., NYU, Institute of Fine Arts. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 1992, p. 190, no. 373.

Sotheby's, London. Greek Vases from the Hirschmann Collection. The Property of a Private Trust, December 9, 1993, lot 26.

"Museum Acquisitions Between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 1998." The Report of the J. Paul Getty Trust (1997-98), p. 68.