The J. Paul Getty Museum


Object Details






Greek (Mycenaean)


Greece (Place Created)


1300–1200 B.C.



Object Number:



14 × 15.7 × 11.5 cm (5 1/2 × 6 3/16 × 4 1/2 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman

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Object Description

A stylized cuttlefish decorates this miniature Mycenaean hydria, a three-handled jar used for carrying water. This type of vase made its first appearance around this time and became a standard shape throughout the history of Greek vase making. Somewhat like an octopus, the cuttlefish is a sea creature with eight short tentacles, as well as two long ones used for catching prey. On this vase, the artist extended the two long tentacles, wrapping them all the way around the body of the vessel. The eyes of the creature are depicted as concentric circles near the sides of the body. The cuttlefish is painted in brownish-black over a cream slip, while details on both the body and the tentacles are highlighted in added white.

During the Bronze Age, Minoan artistic styles exerted a notable influence on nearby cultures. Lively trade networks operated around the Mediterranean, and Crete played a decisive role in spreading a new naturalism in the visual arts. Mycenaean figured pottery produced on mainland Greece often reflects Minoan-inspired themes and techniques that originated on the island of Crete. Animated marine motifs adopted from Minoan pottery appear on Mycenaean vessels beginning in about 1500 B.C. Over the centuries, these pictures became more stylized, as can be seen on this vase.

- 1992

Charles Ede, Ltd. (London, England), sold to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, 1992.

1992 - 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