The J. Paul Getty Museum

Attic Black-Figure Eye Cup

Object Details


Attic Black-Figure Eye Cup




Greek (Attic)


Athens, Greece (Place Created)


550–530 B.C.



Object Number:



12.9 × 39 × 30.2 cm (5 1/16 × 15 5/16 × 11 7/8 in.)

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Object Description

Scenes from the mythological battle between the Olympian gods and the Giants, the children of Earth, and Sky, part of an earlier generation of deities, decorate this black-figure cup. Between the large eyes on one side of the exterior a female figure battles with a giant. Wearing a nebris (animal skin), she should be Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. Under the handles, the hero Herakles, identified by his lionskin, takes on another Giant. The scene is duplicated at the other handle, and in each case, a diminutive figure whose identity is uncertain appears between the duelers. The other side of the cup depicts Athena, the Greek warrior-goddess. She strides to the right, as two opponents emerge from the brows of the large decorative eyes. One wears a soft cap and wields a bow, the other, with a helmet, brandishes a spear. The large staring eyes were a regular feature on Athenian cups at this time, transforming a drinking vessel into a mask. Here, the painter has playfully combined the decorative motif with the narrative imagery.

A winged female deity flies on the interior of the cup. Her identity remains uncertain. She may be Nike, the goddess of victory; Iris, the messenger of the gods; or, perhaps in this context, Eris, the personification of strife.

1962 - 1983

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

1983 - 1986

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

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
To Do Battle: Conflict, Struggle and Symbol in Art (March 8 to July 8, 2002)
  • Norton Simon Museum (Pasadena), March 8 to July 8, 2002
Modern Antiquity: Picasso, de Chirico, Léger and Picabia in the Presence of the Antique (November 2, 2011 to May 20, 2012)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), November 2, 2011 to January 16, 2012
  • Musee Picasso (Antibes), February 16 to May 20, 2012

Bothmer, Dietrich von, and J. Bean. Greek Vases and Modern Drawings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bareiss. Exh. checklist, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: 1969, p. 3, no. 37.

True, Marion, and Jiri Frel. Greek Vases: Molly and Walter Bareiss Collection (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983), p. 75, no. 93.

Brommer, Frank. "Herakles und Theseus auf Vasen in Malibu," Greek Vases in the J. Paul Getty Museum 2. Occasional Papers on Antiquities 3 (1985), pp. 183-228, pp. 197-98; fig. 16.

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

Jordan, J. A. "Attic Black-figured Eye-cups." Ph.D. diss. (New York University, 1988), pp. 24, no. C 17, and 25-26.

Lissarrague, François. L'Autre guerrier: archers, peltastes, cavaliers dans l'imagerie attique. Images à l'Appui, vol. 3. (Paris: La Découverte, 1990), pp. 285, 308, no. A530.

Clark, Andrew J. Corpus Vasorum Antiquorum. The J. Paul Getty Museum 2 (USA 25). The Molly and Walter Bareiss Collection. Malibu: 1990, pp. 58-60; pls. 107-109, and 113, 1.

Steinhart, Matthias. Das Motiv des Auges in der griechischen Bildkunst. Mainz: Philip von Zabern, 1995, p. 15; pl. 26.

Tosto, Vincent. The Black-figure Pottery Signed NIKOSTHENES EPOIESEN. Amsterdam: 1999, p. 155, n. 698.

Schreiber, Toby. Athenian Vase Construction: A Potter's Analysis (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1999), pl. XII.

Green, Christopher, and Jens M. Daehner. Modern Antiquity: Picasso, de Chirico, Leger, and Picabia (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011), 45, 152, no. 2; pl. 4 and back cover ill.

Caillaud, Annaig. "<<Entre-deux>>. Images de déesses ailées dans la céramique attique à figures noires." In La Cité des Regards. Autour de François Lissarrague, edited by V. Zachari, É. Lehoux and N. Hosoi, 171-188. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2019, 177.