The J. Paul Getty Museum

Fragmentary Attic Red-Figure Nestoris

Object Details


Fragmentary Attic Red-Figure Nestoris


Attributed to Polygnotos (Greek (Attic), active 450 - 430 B.C.)


Greek (Attic)


Athens, Greece (Place Created)


about 440 B.C.



Object Number:



41.6 × 35.9 cm (16 3/8 × 14 1/8 in.)

Credit Line:

Anonymous gift

See more

See less

Object Description

The vessel takes the form of a low ovoid on a ring foot, with a narrow neck, broad round mouth and two high projecting handles that each connect to an upright plaque topped by a pair of white horns. The shape has few parallels in the Athenian repertoire, but can be seen as an attempt to emulate vessels produced in Southern Italy.

On the top of the broad lip are what might be pursuit scenes: adjacent to one handle is preserved most of an altar. On one side, a woman in chiton, himation and sakkos runs to right with arms outstretched, towards a partially preserved male (?) figure holding a scepter. On the right, a second woman, also in chiton, himation and sakkos, holding a floral element. On the other side, a partially preserved woman (peplos) moves to left, holding a floral element in her right hand and a hydria in her outstretched left. In the middle, fragments of a youth in a chlamys, holding a spear. To right, a woman in chiton, himation and sakkos moving to right but looking back with arm upraised.

The upper register of the body has scenes from the start and the beginning of the Trojan war. On one side, at left, Priam sits on an altar, holding a scepter. He raises a hand to his head as Polyxena (peplos, sakkos) flees toward him. She hold a phiale in her hand, as a jug falls to the ground. Behind her, Achilles pursues Troilus. The young boy wears a petasos and chlamys, and looks back with one arm outstretched towards his pursuer. Achilles is nude save for a high-crested helmet, spear, sword in its scabbard and hoplite shield (blazon: star). On the other side, Menelaus (high-crested helmet, cuirass, hoplite shield seen from within) drops his sword as he pursues Helen (at far right, with patterned chiton over himation). Aphrodite (peplos, crown, scepter) stands between the couple, and sends forth Eros from her right hand. A woman (peplos) runs away to left, and a fifth figure gestures at far left. Running around the lower register is a series of pursuit scenes.

Underneath the Menelaus and Helen scene, a young man with chlamys, petasos and spear chases after three women, variously wearing chiton and himation or peplos. Two hold a floral element. Further to the right, a partially preserved male figure with a staff gestures towards a woman (peplos) who runs towards him, dropping a fillet (?). Behind her, a winged male pursues three women (chiton and himation), some with floral elements in their hands. On the other side of a tree (located under one of the handles), two more women (chiton and himation) run away from the pursuing youth. One drops a filet; the other appears to hold a hydria. Each long upright handle is decorated with a single standing male figure, dressed in a himation. The more fully preserved figure carries a writing tablet.

Ornament: on the inside of the handle plaques, chequerboard pattern; on the outside, upright palmette complex. Above the youths on the handles, ovolo-band; below them, meander band and palmette complex. On the underside of the mouth, from top: ovolo band, large band of horizontal laurel leaves, band of stylized leaves, tongues (on the shoulder). Around the middle: ovolo band. At the base: rays.


Private Collection (New York, New York), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1981.

I Greci in Occidente (March 23 to October 15, 1996)
  • Palazzo Grassi (Venice), March 23 to October 15, 1996
L'art premier des Iapyges: Ceramique Antique d'Italie meridionale (October 23, 2002 to January 19, 2003)
  • Musée d'art et d'histoire de la Ville de Genève (Geneva), October 23, 2002 to January 19, 2003
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

Jentoft-Nilsen, Marit. "Two Attic Vases of Unique Shape," Proceedings of the 3rd Symposium on Ancient Greek and Related Pottery, Copenhagen, August 31-September 4, 1987. Copenhagen. pp. 278-283, figs. 4-6.

Kahil, Lily, and Noelle Icard. "Helene." In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae IV (1988), pp. 498-563, pp. 543-544, no. 276; pl. 341.

Thoresen, Lisbet. "A Case Study of the Conservation of Two Attic Vases of Unusual Shape: Techniques for Ceramics Used in the Antiquities Conservation Department at the J. Paul Getty Museum," Proceedings of the 14th Annual IIC-CG Conference. May 27-30, 1988, Toronto, Canada. Toronto: 1989, pp. 32, 35, and passim.

Jentoft-Nilsen, Marit. "Two Vases of South Italian Shape by an Attic Painter," Greek Colonists and Native Populations. Proceedings of the First Australian Congress of Classical Archaeology. Held in Honour of Emeritus Professor A. D. Trendall, Sydney, 9-14 July 1985. Oxford: 1990. Pp. 243-249, fig. 2; pls. 26, and 27, 2 and 4.

Burn, Lucilla. "A Dinoid Volute-Krater by the Meleager Painter: An Attic Vase in the South Italian Manner," Occasional papers on Antiquities, 7; Greek Vases in the J. Paul Getty Museum, vol. 5 (1991), pp. 107-130. Includes "Appendix: The Stem Reconstruction," by Lisbet Thoresen, pp. 123-128, p.115.

Bottini, Angelo. "Da Atene alla Daunia: Ceramica ed Acculturazione." MEFRA 103 (1991), 443-455, p.455, note 33.

Podany, Jerry. "Faked, flayed or fractured? Development of loss compensation approaches for antiquities." In Loss compensation : technical and philosophical issues : proceedings of the Objects Specialty Group Session, June 10, 1994, 22nd annual meeting, Nashville, TN. Objects Specialty Group Postprints, vol. 2. Ellen Pearlstein and Michele Marincola, compilers. (Washington, D.C. : American Institute for Conservation and Artistic Works, 1994), pp. 45, figs. 6-7.

Matheson, Susan B. Polygnotos and Vase Painting in Classical Athens (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995), pp. 249, 253; p. 483, cat. PGU 186; pl. 169. Incorrectly listed as 81.AE.183B.

Miller, Margaret C. "Priam, King of Troy," The Ages of Homer. A Tribute to Emily Townsend Vermeule. Jane B. Carter and Sarah P. Morris, eds. Austin: 1995. pp. 449-465, p. 458, fig. 28.15.

Bottini, Angelo. "The Impact of the Greek Colonies on the Indigenous Peoples of Lucania." in The Western Greeks. Pugliese Caratelli, Giovanni, ed. (Milan: Bompiani, 1996, English edition), pp. 548, 696, cat 143/1-2.

Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneliese. "Troilos." In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae VIII (1997), pp. 91-94, p. 93, no. 11; pl. 70.

Tsiafakis, Despoina. He Thrake sten Attike Eikonographia tou 5ou aiona p.X (Thrace in Athenian Iconography of the Fifth Century B.C.) (Komotini: Komotēnē Morphōtikos Homilos Komotinēs, Kentro Thrakikōn Meletōn, 1998), p. 160; pls. 49b, 50b, 52.

Mangold, Meret. Kassandra in Athen. Die Eroberung Trojas auf attischen Vasenbildern. Berlin: 2000, pp. 96, 194, cat. no. IV 30.

Strawczynski, Nina. "L’image temporalisée. Le temps dans l’imagerie attique archaïque et classique." In Constructions du temps dans le monde grec ancien, edited by C. Darbo-Peschanski, 149-163. Paris: CNRS Editions, 2000, 464, fn. 60.

Hedreen, Guy. Capturing Troy: The Narrative Functions of Landscape in Archaic and Early Classical Greek Art (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001), pp. 152-53, 154, 225, fig. 41.

Chamay, Jacques and Chantal Courtois. L'Art Premier des Iapyges Ceramique Antique d'Italie Meridionale. Exh. Cat. Geneva: 2002, p. 157, cat. 87.

Ambrosini, Laura. "La capitolazione amorosa di Menelao," Mitteilungen Des Deutschen Archaologischen Instituts Romische Abteilung Band 110 (2003), p. 211, fig. 9 (incorrectly cited as 81.AE.183B).

Robinson, E.D.G. "Reception of Comic Theatre Amongst the Indigenous South Italians." Meditarch 17 (2004), , 195.

Todisco, Luigi, "Un gruppo di vasi attici e il problema delle 'special commission' in Italia meridionale." in Pittura e ceramica figurata tra Grecia, Magna Grecia e Sicilia (Bari: La Biblioteca, 2006), 103-129, p.110, fig. 9. The article originally appeared in MEFRA 110.2 (1998).

Todisco, Luigi, "Temi narrativi nella ceramica apula prima delle figure rosso." in Pittura e ceramica figurata tra Grecia, Magna Grecia e Sicilia (Bari: La Biblioteca, 2006), 53-71, p.70.

Potrandolfo, Angela. "Le Produzioni Ceramiche." In Atene e l'Occidente. I Grandi Temi. Edited by E. Greco and M. Lombardi. Athens : Scuola archeologica italiana di Atene, 2007, p.333.

Pellegrini, Elisa. Eros nella Grecia arcaica e classica: iconografia e iconologia. (Rome: Giorgio Bretschneider, 2009), p. 256, no. 968.

Denoyelle, Martine, and Mario Iozzo. La céramique grecque d'Italie méridionale et de Sicile (Paris: Éditions A. et J. Picard, 2009), p. 98.

Hedreen, Guy. "Vase-painting and the Narrative Logic: Achilles and Troilos in Athens and Etruria." In Red-figure Pottery in its Ancient Setting. Stine Schierup and Bodil Bundgaard Rasmussen, eds. (Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2012), p. 142, fig. 10.

Williams, Dyfri. "Greek Potters and Painters: Marketing and Movement." In Pottery Markets in the Ancient Greek World, edited by A. Tsingarida and D. Viviers. Brussels: CReA-Patrimoine, 2013. 39-60, p. 45-46, fig. 5.

Stansbury-O'Donnell, Mark. "Menelaos and Helen in Attic Vase Painting." In Athenian Potters and Painters: Volume III. John H. Oakley, ed. (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2014), p. 250, fig. 9, p. 250, fig. 9.

Colvicchi, Fabio. "'Native' Vase Shapes in South Italian Red-Figure Pottery." In The Italic People of Ancient Apulia. New Evidence from Pottery for Workshops, Markets, and Customs edited by T. H. Carpenter, K.M. Lynch and E.G.D. Robinson. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 213-242, p. 213 (inv. number not given).