The J. Paul Getty Museum

Rear Handle of a Kalpis

Object Details


Rear Handle of a Kalpis






Greece (Place Created)


450–425 B.C.



Object Number:



17 × 8.3 × 5.5 cm (6 11/16 × 3 1/4 × 2 3/16 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman

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Object Description

A siren--a hybrid mythological creature that is half-human, half-bird--decorates the base of this bronze handle. Originally, this piece was the upright rear handle of a kalpis, a type of hydria or water carrying vessel. Although the vessel itself no longer survives, the handle testifies to its elaborate nature. The handle is fluted and the convex circular plate that attached to the neck of the kalpis is decorated with tongue-pattern and beading. The siren stretches out her wings forming the plate that attached to the body of the vessel. Palmettes and spiraling tendrils run under the siren creating a lacy openwork pattern through which the highly polished surface of the vessel's body would have shown. Sirens, known for their hypnotic singing that could lure men to their deaths, were the most popular handle element for bronze hydriai in the mid-400s B.C. Since there is no clear iconographic link, the reason may be practical. The outspread wings provided a broad flat surface for soldering the handle onto the body of the vessel.

- 1988

Fritz Bürki & Son (Zurich, Switzerland), sold to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, 1988.

1988 - 1996

Barbara Fleischman and Lawrence Fleischman, American, 1925 - 1997 (New York, New York), 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
Remembering Antiquity: The Ancient World Through Medieval Eyes (January 24 to May 28, 2017)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 24 to May 28, 2017