Gnathian Situla

Object Details


Gnathian Situla


Attributed to the Workshop of the Konnakis Painter (Greek (Gnathia), active about 375 - 350 B.C.)


Greek (South Italian, Apulian)


Apulia, South Italy, Europe (Place created)


about 350 B.C.




21.9 cm (8 5/8 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman

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Vase-painters working in the Greek colonies in South Italy frequently showed scenes of theatrical performances. Phlyax plays, popular in the 300s and 200s B.C., were farces parodying the heroes and themes of mythology or the comic elements of everyday life. The term phlyax, which is used for both the play and the costumed actors, probably derives from the Greek verb "to swell" and finds its meaning in the actors' costumes. They wore a mask, tights, a padded tunic, and a large artificial phallus; any other garments necessary for the role were worn over this.

This Gnathian ware situla depicts a phlyax moving to the right along a dotted ground line while looking back over his shoulder. The economical scene makes it impossible to know what play is shown, but the figure is meant to be an African.

As well as decorating vases in the red-figure technique, Apulian vase-painters created a type of pottery that scholars call Gnathian ware. In this technique, artisans glazed the entire surface of the vase black, then painted on the figures in added colors. This type of pottery began around 360 B.C. and was very popular in the period from about 350 to 325 B.C.

- 1989

Fritz Bürki & Son (Zurich, Switzerland), sold to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, 1989.

1989 - 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
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

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. 142-44, cat. no. 63.

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

Spivey, Nigel and Squire, Michael. Panorama of the Classical World (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2004), p. 260, fig. 411.

Hughes, Alan. Performing Greek Comedy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), p.xi, 132, 136, 193, figs. 33, 37, 48, p. 132.

Oakley, John H. The Greek Vase: Art of the Storyteller (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2013), p. 129, fig. 33.