This red‑figure lekythos captures an intimate moment of a woman at her toilette. The nude woman glances back over her shoulder, momentarily turning her gaze from contemplating herself in the mirror. The vase‑painter included familiar household items, such as the small chest at the left and the kalathos, or wool basket, at the right. Scenes of a woman at her toilette are found in Athenian vase‑painting from the early 500s B.C. on, but the women are usually clothed. The portrayal of this woman as nude may indicate that she is a hetaera (courtesan), or a sex worker. The use of added white paint for the woman's flesh‑‑an unusual choice in red‑figure pottery of the mid‑400s B.C.‑‑further emphasizes her nudity. 

This vase did not fire properly in the kiln. Much of its surface is a red‑brown, rather than the standard deep black of Athenian pottery. The side of the lekythos to the right of the woman even has a "ghost" of a meander pattern band caused by touching another vase during firing.


  • Title: Attic Red-Figure Lekythos
  • Creator: Phiale Painter
  • Date Created: about 450 B.C.
  • Location Created: Athens, Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: 31.6 × 10.5 cm (12 7/16 × 4 1/8 in.)
  • Type: Lekythos
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Terracotta
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 86.AE.250
  • Culture: Greek (Attic)
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Creator Display Name: Circle of Phiale Painter (Greek (Attic), active about 450 - 425 B.C.)
  • Classification: Vessels (Containers)

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