The J. Paul Getty Museum

Miniature Stirrup Jar

Object Details

Title:

Miniature Stirrup Jar

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Greek (Mycenaean)

Place:

Greece (Place Created)

Date:

about 1130–1100 B.C.

Medium:

Terracotta

Object Number:

86.AE.34

Dimensions:

7.2 × 5.9 cm (2 13/16 × 2 5/16 in.)

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Object Description

A stylized octopus covers the surface of this Mycenaean stirrup jar, named so for the shape of its handles. Influenced by the Minoan styles on Crete, Mycenaean potters often decorated their wares with motifs of marine life. Although these renderings were initially very naturalistic, they became more stylized over the centuries, until the creatures became so abstract as to be unrecognizable. The octopus on this vase has no body, only six tentacles, and the eyes have been transformed into two rosettes near the base of the jar.

By the end of the Bronze Age, after about 1100 B.C., the power of the Mycenaean kingdoms had collapsed, but elements of Mycenaean culture continued, with artists trying to carry on earlier traditions. Without a unifying power, the widely spread Mycenaean settlements developed independent regional styles of pottery. The degenerate octopus style decorating this vase is characteristic of the Greek islands. Stirrup jars were used for the storage and shipping of liquids, and a small example like this one probably held perfumed oil.

 

Provenance
Provenance
1965 - 1983

Walter Bareiss, American, born Germany, 1919 - 2007 and Molly Bareiss, American, 1920 - 2006 (Stamford, Connecticut), distributed to the Mary S. Bareiss 1983 Trust, 1983.

1983 - 1986

Mary S. Bareiss 1983 Trust, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
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
Bibliography