Terracotta bell-krater (bowl for mixing wine and water)

Attributed to the Danaë Painter

Period: Classical

Date: ca. 460 B.C.

Culture: Greek, Attic

Medium: Terracotta; red-figure

Dimensions: H. 11 7/8 in. (30.2 cm)
diameter of mouth 13 5/8 in. (34.6 cm)

Classification: Vases

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1923

Accession Number: 23.160.80


The scene here has an intimacy that is exceptional in Greek vase-painting. In an indoor setting, a seated woman plays the lyre. Before her stand two women, one of whom rests her chin and hands on the shoulder of the other. The listeners are enraptured by what they hear. All of the elements in the representation reflect daily life in mid-fifth century B.C. Athens. It is nonetheless tempting to see the subject in more specific terms. One scholar has suggested that the women might be muses. Another possibility is that the performer is the poetess Sappho, who appears on several black-figured and red-figured vases.