Apulian Red-Figure Bell Krater

Object Details


Apulian Red-Figure Bell Krater


Attributed to the Rainone Painter (Greek (Apulian), active about 375 - 350 B.C.)


Greek (South Italian, Apulian)


Apulia, South Italy (Place created)


about 370 B.C.



Object Number:



27.3 cm (10 3/4 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman

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On a simple stage set, an actor costumed as an old man removes the lid of a chest to reveal a bizarre child with a ram's head and a large erection. Looking bewildered, a second old man clasps the child's wrist. This strange scene probably represents a theatrical parody of the mythical birth of Erichthonios. In the myth, Hephaistos, the craftsman god, believing that the goddess Athena was attracted to him, attempted to have sex with her. When she resisted, some of Hephaistos's semen fell on her leg. She wiped it off with a piece of wool and threw it away, accidentally impregnating Ge, the earth. Athena cared for the resulting infant and kept him in a sacred basket on the Athenian Akropolis. In the theatrical version depicted on this vase, the elaborate doorway at the left of the stage probably represents Athena's temple, and the ram's head on the child refers to the wool in the story.

The scene on the front of this Apulian red-figure bell-krater depicts a phlyax play, a type of farce parodying mythology, popular in the Greek colonies in South Italy in the 300s B.C. The actors wear a distinctive costume of mask, tights, padded tunic, and large artificial phallus. The back of the vase bears a much less intriguing scene of three standing youths.

by 1978-

Private Collection

- 1989

Stanley Moss, sold to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, 1989.

1989 - 1996

Barbara Fleischman


and Lawrence Fleischman, American, 1925 - 1997, donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996.

A Passion for Antiquities: Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman (October 13, 1994 to April 23, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), October 13, 1994 to January 15, 1995
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland), February 14 to April 23, 1995

Trendall, Arthur Dale and Cambitoglou, Alexander. The Red-figured Vases of Apulia, I (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), no. 4/224 a (as Vidigulfo, Castello dei Landriani 261).

Trendall, Arthur Dale, and Alexander Cambitoglou. First Supplement to The Red-figured Vases of Apulia (Supplement to the Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies of the University of London, 42). London: 1983, p. 15.

True, Marion, and Kenneth Hamma, eds. A Passion For Antiquities. Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, exh. cat. (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994), pp. 129-31, cat. no. 57.

Zewadski, William Knight. Ancient Greek Vases from South Italy in Tampa Bay Collections. Supplement III. Tampa: August 1995, p. 107, no. 3i.

"Museum Acquisitions Between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 1998." The Report of the J. Paul Getty Trust (1997-98), p. 68.

Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneliese. "Medeas Widderzauber als Phlyakenparodie," Greek Vases in the J. Paul Getty Museum 6. Occasional Papers on Antiquities 9 (2000), pp. 187-204, figs. 1a-b.

Rusten, Jeffrey, ed. The Birth of Comedy (Baltimore: JHU Press, 2011), p. 442.

Todisco, L. (ed.), La Ceramica a Figure Rosse della Magna Grecia e della Sicilia (Rome: L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2012), pl. 75.

Oakley, John H. The Greek Vase: Art of the Storyteller (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013), p. 128, fig. 32.

Lo Piparo, Fabio. "Il canestro di Ione, la kiste di Erittonio: mitografia, drammaturgia e iconografia," Engramma. La tradizione classica nella memoria occidentale 120 (October 2014: http://www.engramma.it/eOS2/index.php?id_articolo=1924).