Attic Red-Figure Lekythos

Object Details


Attic Red-Figure Lekythos


Greek (Attic)


Athens, Greece (Place created)


about 420 - 400 B.C.




18.4 × 10.6 cm (7 1/4 × 4 3/16 in.)

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As these two figures gaze longingly at each other and the couple falls in love, the fate of a generation of Greek and Trojan warriors is sealed. On this Athenian red-figure lekythos, the artist depicted the moment when Paris, the Trojan prince, meets Helen, the wife of his host Menelaos, the king of Sparta. Helen will run off with Paris, sparking the Trojan War. Paris and Helen meet in the palace at Sparta, whose lavish setting is indicated by the elaborate doors with raised relief knockers. Helen's companions frame the scene; one seems rather amazed to see a tiny version of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, blessing the union as she flies through the air in a chariot drawn by erotes. A lekythos was a container used for precious 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.

by 1963 -

Charles Gillet, 1879 - 1972 (Lausanne, Switzerland)

by 1984 -

Private Collection (Münchenstein, Switzerland)

by 1987 -

Private Collection (Geneva, Switzerland)


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) (34)
  • 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.

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    Audio: Attic Red-Figure Lekythos (Exhibit: APHRODITE)