The J. Paul Getty Museum

Attic Black-Figure Neck Amphora

Object Details


Attic Black-Figure Neck Amphora


Attributed to Leagros Group (Greek (Attic), active 525 - 500 B.C.)


Greek (Attic)


Athens, Greece (Place Created)


about 510 B.C.



Object Number:



30.4 × 45.3 cm (11 15/16 × 17 13/16 in.)

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Object Description

Two warriors sit playing a board game, while the goddess Athena stands in front of the board and gestures. The warriors have their armor and weapons ready, as if just pausing during a break in the conflict. Based on similar scenes with inscriptions, the two warriors can be identified as Ajax and Achilles, the leading men in the Greek army. This scene was very popular in Athenian vase-painting of the late 500s B.C. and was a favorite of the painters in the Leagros Group. Some scholars believe that this mythological scene also served as a contemporary political parable on the value of staying alert, since the tyrant Peisistratos had been able to take control of the city of Athens while the army was distracted. The back of the vase depicts three hoplites, or warriors, in a line. Such files of hoplites are rather unusual in vase-painting, and this depiction may have been meant to relate to the scene on the front of the vase. These hoplites may be Greeks on the march to counter a Trojan attack, while Ajax and Achilles are notified by Athena. Such an interpretation would explain Athena's unusually prominent position on this rendition of the scene. 

1961 - 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.

Weltkunst aus Privatbesitz (May 18 to August 4, 1968)
  • Kunsthalle Köln (Cologne), May 18 to August 4, 1968
Greek Vases and Modern Drawings from the Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Walter Bareiss (June 13 to October 5, 1969)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), June 13 to October 5, 1969

May, Helmut, ed. Weltkunst aus Privatbesitz, exh. cat. (Cologne: Druckerei J. P. Bachem, 1968), cat. no. A 24.

Bothmer, Dietrich von, and J. Bean. Greek Vases and Modern Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bareiss. Exh. checklist. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1969), p. 2, no. 19.

Brommer, Frank. Vasenlisten zur griechischen Heldensage. 3rd ed. (Marburg: N. G. Elwert Verlag, 1973), p. 335, no. 23.

Woodford, Susan. "Ajax and Achilles Playing a Game on an Olpe in Oxford." Journal of Hellenic Studies 102 (1982), pp. 173-185, p. 182, no. D 5 bis.

True, Marion, and Jiri Frel. Greek Vases: Molly and Walter Bareiss Collection (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983), p. 70, no. 43.

"Acquisitions/1986." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 15 (1987), pp. 160-61, no. 7.

Clark, Andrew J. Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. The J. Paul Getty Museum 1 (USA 23). Malibu: 1988, pp. 30-31; pls. 30, 3-4; 33, 1; and 34, 3-4.

J.C. McKeown. Grece, un cabinet de curiosities, Contes etranges et faits surprenants du berceau de la civilisation occidentale. (Paris: Editions Bibliomane, 2014), p. 203.