The J. Paul Getty Museum

Caeretan Hydria

Object Details


Caeretan Hydria


Attributed to Eagle Painter (Greek (Caeretan), active 530 - 500 B.C.)


Etruscan (Caeretan)


Caere (?), Etruria (Place Created)


520–510 B.C.



Object Number:



44.6 × 38 × 33.4 cm (17 9/16 × 14 15/16 × 13 1/8 in.)

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Object Description

The subject of the figural decoration of this hydria is Herakles and Iolaos slaying the Hydra.
Painted in black figure, the scene occupies the upper register on the body of the vessel between the two side handles. Herakles approaches from the right grasping one of the heads of the nine-headed, bearded Hydra with his left hand and raising his club with his right. Herakles is armored in a corslet and greaves. To his right, a large crab pinches Herakles' heel. Iolaos rushes forward from the left grasping one of the Hydra heads with his left hand and preparing to cut it off with the sickle he brandishes in his right. Underneath Iolaos is a small fire. On the reverse of the vessel, two sphinxes flank the vertical back handle, striding away from the center.

The ornamental decoration on the hydria consists of tongues surrounding the mouth and adorning the foot; a pattern of double lotus leaves and eight pointed stars around the neck; a frieze of ivy decorating the shoulder; and a lotus-palmette frieze on the body underneath the register with the figural decoration. On the base is a pattern of upward pointing rays and on the rim of the vessel is chain of diamonds. Palmettes decorate the area where the side handles are attached.

This hydria is one of a small group of painted vases produced at Caere in Etruria. All these vases appear to come from one workshop, which may have employed two artists. Caeretan hydriai display many of the basic elements of Greek vase-painting reinterpreted for an Etruscan market, using a more vivid range of colors and emphasizing the importance of floral ornament in the decoration. They are unusual in that the artist used a template for the floral decoration, a technique not otherwise known in Greek vase-painting.

- 1935

Ludwig Pollak, 1868 - 1943 (Rome, Italy), sold to Count Antoine Seilern through Fritz Eichler (Vienna, Austria), 1935.
Source: Count von Seilern’s acquisition of the vase in 1935 is first recorded by Hemelrijk and Lubsen-Admiraal 1977-8. The vase may be that noted by Webster 1928; its earliest certain mention is Plaoutine 1941.

1935 - 1978

Count Antoine Seilern, 1901 - 1978 (Vienna, Austria, then, from 1939, London, England), by descent to his niece, Countess Henrietta Seilern, 1978.

1978 - 1982

Countess Henrietta Seilern [sold, Fine Antiquities: The Properties of the Estate of the late Count Antoine Seilern, Christie's, London, July 2, 1982, lot 252, to Galerie Hydra.]

1982 - 1983

Galerie Hydra (Geneva, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983.

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
Monsters: Fantastic creatures of fear and myth (December 19, 2013 to June 1, 2014)
  • Museo Nazionale Romano (Rome), December 19, 2013 to June 1, 2014

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Plaoutine, N., “La Représentation de Thersite par le Peintre des Hydries dites de Caeré et les Sources Littéraires qui ont Inspiré cet Artiste.” Revue des Études Grecques 55 (1942), p. 177.

Santangelo, Maria. "Les nouvelles hydries de Caere au Musee de la Villa Giulia," Monuments et memoires. Fondation E. Piot 44 (1950), p. 13; figs. 6 and 13.

Amandry, P. "Herakles et l'hydre de Lerne." Bulletin de la Faculte des Lettres de Strasbourg 30 (1952), p. 296, no. 25.

Callipolitis, V. "Les hydries de Caere: Essai de classification," L'Antiquite classique 24 (1955), pp. 384-411, no. 26.

Hemelrijk, J. M. De Caeretaanse Hydriae. Amsterdam: 1956, p. 112, no. 17.

Amamndry, P. "Plaques d'or de Delphes," Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archaeologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung 77 (1962), p. 65, n. 205, Beilage 13.1.

Brommer, Frank. Vasenlisten zur griechischen Heldensage. 3rd ed. (Marburg: N. G. Elwert Verlag, 1973), p. 82, no. 16.

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Hemelrijk, J. M., and Stella Lubsen-Admiraal. "Notes on Some Caeretan Hydriai," Bulletin Antieke Beschaving. Annual Papers on Classical Archaeology 52/53 (1977/1978), pp. 1-29, pp. 1-7, ill. figs. 1-26.

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Maffre, Jean-Jacques. "Le combat d'Heracles contre l'hydre de Lerne dans la collection de vases grecs du Louvre," La revue du Louvre 35/2 (1985), pp. 83-95, pp. 86-87; fig. 5.

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The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 1st ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), p. 46.

Brommer, Frank. Heracles: The Twelve Labors of the Hero in Ancient Art and Literature. New Rochelle, NY: 1986, p. 14.

Drury, E., ed. Antiques: Traditional Techniques of the Master Craftsmen. London: 1986, p. 105.

Isler, H. P. Review of J. M. Hemelrijk's "Caeretan Hydriae" in Gnomon 59 (1987), p. 723.

Kokkorou-Alewras, G. "Herakles." In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae V (1990), p. 37, no. 2016; pl. 56.

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Carpenter, Tom. H. Art and Myth in Ancient Greece. London: 1991, p. 121; fig. 180.

Walsh, John. "Collections and Exhibitions," J. Paul Getty Trust Report, 1991-1992, p. 13, ill.

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Hemelrijk, J. M. "Three Caeretan Hydriae in Malibu and New York," Greek Vases in The J. Paul Getty Museum 6. Occasional Papers on Antiquities 9 (2000), pp. 87-158, pp. 115-25; figs. 18a-y.

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Education Resources
Education Resources

Education Resource




A Story on a Vase

Lesson plan in which students examine a scene depicting the Greek hero Herakles on a Greek vase and depict a Greek myth on their own vase.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; History–Social Science

K-2; 3-5

Three/Five-Part Lesson

Mythological Creatures and Herakles

Lesson in which students learn about mythological creatures in the Hercules (Herakles) myth. They learn vocabulary and draw a mythological creature.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts


Two-Part Lesson