Caeretan Hydria

Object Details


Caeretan Hydria


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


Etruscan (Caeretan)


Caere (?), Etruria (Place created)


about 525 B.C.




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

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On this black-figure hydria, the Greek hero Herakles battles the Lernean Hydra while a large crab nips at his foot. His companion Iolaos attacks from the other side, cutting off one of the monster's heads with a harpe or short curved sword. Two sphinxes flank the handle on the back of the vessel, and floral decoration covers the rest of the vase: an ivy tendril on the shoulder and a palmette and lotus frieze on the lower body.

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 had 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.

1935 - 1978

Count Antoine Seilern, 1901 - 1978 (Vienna, Austria, then, from 1939, London, England), by descent to his wife, 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. Revue des etudes 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.

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Kurtz, D. C. Review of J. M. Hemelrijk's "Caeretan Hydriae" in Classical Review 35 (1985), p. 340.

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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.

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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

Related Media
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    Audio: Caeretan Hydria (1)