Attic Black Figured Hydria

SKU: MS.0017

Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: 4th century BC
Dimensions: 20" Height x 15" Width (50.8 cm x 38.1 cm)
Medium: Terracotta

An imposing vessel, the hydria is designed around a central panel depicting the wedding procession of Peleus and Thetis. The couple stands together in a quadriga, the groom controlling the horses with reins and goad in his hands, his veiled bride at his side, facing the couple three standing goddesses, one wearing a radiate diadem, perhaps Hera, behind the quadriga a draped female attendant, another in front standing with raised hands, to the far left the standing figure of Apollo playing a kithara, the shoulder with Herakles wrestling the Nemean lion, the hero's quiver and cloak hanging above, flaked by four figures, to the left a draped female figure carrying a spear, and Herakles' nephew Iolaus carrying the hero's knobbed club on his shoulder, to the right Hermes wearing winged petasos and sandals, and Athena, wearing high-crested helmet, peplos and aegis. The scene is framed by a double band of ivy, with bands of tongues above, rays around the foot, details in added red and white.

Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 10 July 1974, lot 119. Kelts collection, La Jolla, California. Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 8 June 2012, lot 62

Repaired from several fragments with large areas of restoration over the back of the vessel, all three handles restored, foot restored, areas of restoration across the decorated shoulder with infill and over painting, similar patches to the main panel , reserved red with patches of heavy wear and pitting, large area of misfiring to red over back and right side of vessel, possible enhancement to the added red and white.

The ancient Greeks valued function and beauty in their art, which this hydria is a good example of. A water container designed to carry and pour, its horizontal handles for carrying, while the vertical handle made it easy to tilt and pour the contents. During the Classical period Hydria became associated with the nuptial-bathing ritual, which occurred on the morning of the wedding to cleanse and assist with the bride's fertility. Understandably, wedding scenes became increasingly popular on Attic black-figured vases from the 6th Century B.C., having first appeared almost a century before. Typically the scenes depict the chariot procession from the bride's father's house to the groom's. These vases would then be given as part of the bride's dowry.

See the Attic Black-Figured Hydria, Royal Ontario Museum, object number 919.5.133 for another Hydria featuring a wedding scene. For similar see E. D. Reeder, Pandora: Women in Classical Greece, Princeton, 1995, p. 63, fig. 1, with the accompanying gods identified by inscription. Also, for similar example showing the "Wedding Procession of Peleus and Thetis," Stahler, "Schwarzfigurige Hydria der sammlung Socha," in Boreas 1, 1985, pp. 194-199, pl. 36.



Attic Black Figured Hydria


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