Hydria

Object Details

Title:

Hydria

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

Greek

Place(s):

Greece (Place created)

Date:

460 B.C.

Medium:

Bronze

Dimensions:

47 x 28.2 cm (18 1/2 x 11 1/8 in.)

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Spreading her arms around the rim, a woman looks over the edge of this Greek bronze hydria. Large attachment plates with palmettes form the bases of the two side handles and the lower base of the rear handle. The most prominent feature of the vessel, however, is the woman's bust at the top of the rear handle. Her outstretched arms end in ornamental disks, called rotelles. Stylistic features of the woman, as well as the overall heavy form of the hydria, indicate that the vessel probably dates to about 460 B.C.

Human busts, especially female, were added over the mouths of several types of vessels at this time. The precise reason for this decoration is not known, but it is probably connected with the belief that these figures served a protective role. In Greek thought, frontal faces and eyes had apotropaic powers--the ability to ward off evil.

Although designed to carry water, hydriai were often used or recycled for other purposes, especially as cinerary urns. When found, this hydria contained bone fragments of a two-year-old child, along with ashes, fiber, and glass beads.

Provenance
- 1973

Robin Symes, Limited, English, 1977 - 2005 (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1973.

Bibliography

Berger, Rainer. "Identification, Age and Date of Skeletal Remains Found in a Greek Hydria," The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, vol. 1 (1974). pp. 23-24.

Bothmer, Dietrich von. "Two Bronze Hydriae in Malibu," The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, vol. 1 (1974), pp. 15-22. figs. 1-2, 5-6, 8.

Mertens, Joan. "The Human Figure in Classical Bronze-working: Some Perspectives," Small Bronze Sculpture from the Ancient World, pp. 85-102. Malibu: 1990. p. 94; fig. 8.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002) pp. 38-39.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010) p. 40.