Attic Red-Figure Lekythos

Phiale Painterabout 450 B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

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 unknown 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 hetaira, or prostitute. 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.

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  • Title: Attic Red-Figure Lekythos
  • Creator: Circle of Phiale Painter
  • Date: about 450 B.C.
  • Location Created: Athens, Greece
  • Physical Dimensions: 31.6 x 10.5 cm (12 7/16 x 4 1/8 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Terracotta
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Object Type: Lekythos
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 86.AE.250
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 207, Women and Children in Antiquity
  • Department: Antiquities
  • Culture: Greek (Attic)
  • Classification: Vessels


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