The J. Paul Getty Museum

Plate with Hero and Leander

Object Details


Plate with Hero and Leander






Faenza, Emilia-Romagna, Italy (Place Created)


about 1525


Tin-glazed earthenware

Object Number:



3.8 × 44 cm (1 1/2 × 17 5/16 in.)

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Object Description

An unknown artist painted the center of this large display plate with a scene of the lovers Hero and Leander, who lived on opposite sides of the strait separating Asia and Europe. According to this myth, every night Leander swam to visit his beloved in her tower. When Leander was drowned in a storm, Hero threw herself into the sea in despair and also drowned.

Leander is painted three times on this plate, so that his story unfolds in a continuous narrative. The tower from which Hero watches Leander's approach rises awkwardly from the sea; its lower half is visible beneath the painted water. The artist miscalculated the composition and had to paint over part of the tower in order to widen the patch of water enough to show Leander both drowned and swimming. This interesting mistake results from the artist's unwillingness to completely wash off the entire scene and start again, which would have been the only way to make imperceptible changes after having applied pigments and glaze.

- 1929

Henry Gautier (Paris, France) [sold, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, May 4, 1929, lot 28, to G. Durlacher]

1929 - 1938

Durlacher Brothers (London, England) [sold, Christie's, London, April 6-7, 1938, lot 26, to H.S. Reitlinger]

1938 - 1950

Henry Scipio Reitlinger (L.2274a), English, 1882 - 1950 (Maidenhead, Surrey, England), upon his death, held in trust by the estate, 1950.

1950 - 1959

Estate of Henry Scipio Reitlinger (L.2274a), English, 1882 - 1950 (Maidenhead, Surrey, England) [sold by his executors, Sotheby's, London, April 27, 1959, lot 142, to Robert Strauss]

1959 - 1976

Robert Strauss (Owner location) [sold, The Robert Strauss Collection of Italian Maiolica, Christie's, London, June 21, 1976, lot 24, to Rainer Zietz]

1976 - 1984

Rainer Zietz Limited, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.