The J. Paul Getty Museum

Attic Red-Figure Lekythos

Object Details


Attic Red-Figure Lekythos


Greek (Attic)


Athens, Greece (Place Created)


420–400 B.C.



Object Number:



18.4 × 10.6 cm (7 1/4 × 4 3/16 in.)

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Object Description

A lekythos was a container used for perfumed oils. Because it had a narrow neck, the oil poured out slowly and the cup-like mouth served as a funnel for filling the vessel. The subject and decoration of this example would have been well-suited to its precious contents. A young man holds a strigil as he looks longingly into his seated lover's eyes. She holds a mirror and sits on a chair (klismos) rendered in three-quarter view. Their loving encounter merits the approval of Aphrodite, who appears above in a chariot led by two Erotes. The goddess's appearance surprises a crowned woman at left, who stands beside a doorway before a cushioned stool. On the other side, a third woman watches the scene, holding her mantle before her face. The women's flesh, and that of the two Erotes, is rendered in white. Many added details rendered in clay relief, such as necklaces, bracelets and the lovers’ sandals, would probably have been gilded. Some have seen the couple as Paris and Helen, encountering each other for the first time, and setting in motion the events that will lead to the Trojan War. No inscription or attributes identify the figures, however, and a mythical story is not necessary to appreciate this carefully crafted vision of mutual desire.

by 1963 -

Private Collection (Lausanne, Switzerland)

by 1984 -

Private Collection (Münchenstein, Switzerland)

by 1987 -

Private Collection (Geneva, Switzerland)

- 1991

Private Collection, by exchange to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991.

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
The Colors of Clay: Special Techniques in Athenian Vases (June 8 to September 4, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), June 8 to September 4, 2006
Aphrodite and the Gods of Love (March 28, 2012 to May 26, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), March 28 to July 9, 2012

Beazley, J. D. Attic Red-figure Vase-painters. 2nd ed. Oxford: 1963, p. 1317, no. 3.

Delivorrias, Angelos, et al. "Aphrodite." Lexicon iconographicum mythologiae classicae 1 (1984), p.117, no. 1192.

Burn, Lucilla. The Meidias Painter. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), p. 101, no. F3.

"Acquisitions/1991." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 20 (1992), p. 146, no. 22.

Shapiro, H. Alan. Personifications in Greek Art: The Representation of Abstract Concepts 600-400 B.C. (Kilchberg: Akanthus, 1993), pp. 117n253, 203n474.

Towne Markus, Elana. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Antiquities. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 47.

Sutton, Robert F., Jr. "Nuptial Eros: The Visual Discourse of Marriage in Classical Athens." The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery 55/56 (1997/1998). pp. 27-48, p. 37: fig. 16.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 81.

Baggio, Monica "La Sera delle Nozze," in Colpo, I. et al (eds.) Iconografia 2001-Studi sull' Immagine (Edizione Quasar: Rome, 2002), pp. 189-97, figs. 1-4.

Sacks, David. Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World (New York: Facts on File, 2005), p. 147, ill.

Pointer, Sally. The Artifice of Beauty: A History and Practical Guide to Perfumes and Cosmetics (United Kingdom: Sutton Publishing, 2005), p. 34.

Cohen, Beth, ed. The Colors of Clay: Special Techniques in Athenian Vases, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2006), pp. 133-34, cat. no. 34, figs. 34.1-34.2.

Soldner, Magdalene. Bios Eudaimon: Zur Ikonographie des Menschen in der rotfigurigen Vasenmalerei Unteritaliens (Bibliopolis, 2007), pp. 223-25, Abb. 280-282.

Lezzi-Hafter, A. "Clay, Gold, and Craft: Special Techniques in Three Vases by the Eretria Painter and Their Apotheosis in Xenophantos." In Papers on Special Techniques on Athenian Vases. Edited by K. Lapatin (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2008), p. 176-177.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 76.

Lezzi-Hafter, Adrienne. "The Xenophantos Chous from Kerch with Cypriot Themes." In Red-figure Pottery in its Ancient Setting. Stine Schierup and Bodil Bundgaard Rasmussen, eds. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2012. 34-42, p. 41, n 14.

Green, J.R. "Two Phaedras: Euripides and Aristophanes?" In Ancient Comedy and Reception: Essays in Honor of Jeffrey Henderson. Olson, Stuart Douglas, ed. (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014), p. 126, no. 8.

Lezzi-Hafter, Adrienne. "Athenaios Epoiesen." In Topfer-Maler-Schreiber. R. Wachter, ed. (Akanthus: Zurich, 2016), p. 80, footnote 1.