Hydria: Regina Vasorum

UnknownSouthern Italy, Campania. 4th century BC

The State Hermitage Museum

The State Hermitage Museum
St. Petersburg, Russia

This large hydria, widely known as "Regina Vasorum", is one of the most beautiful examples of ancient Greece pottery. Almost the entire surface of the vase's egg-shaped body is covered with black lacquer. The edge of the reverted rim is decorated with a gilded band of ova (egg-shaped pattern). The lacquered body, except for a narrow band, is decorated with vertical ribs, thus resembling the finishing of metal vessels. The narrow band on the body shows griffins, lions and panthers, all in relief. However, the most important decoration of the vessel is a relief composition on the shoulders showing the deities mostly of the Eleusinian circle. We see Rhea, mother of the Olympian gods; the goddess of the Underworld Hecate holding a torch in her hand; the young Dionysus holding a thyrsus; the goddess of agriculture and fertility Demeter; Athena sitting on a rock; Artemis holding two torches in her hands and Aphrodite. The figures were modelled separately and then attached to the surface by means of fluid clay. They are painted white, blue and purple, and also gilded. The depicted motifs go back to the original sculptures of the 4th century BC. It should be noted that the use of painted bas-reliefs instead of drawings could be caused by the fact that the artists sought to be in keeping with the latest achievements in monumental painting, adopting the three-dimensional modelling and rich colouring, typical of the latter. The State Hermitage Museum, St.Petersburg. Photo by Vladimir Terebenin.


  • Title: Hydria: Regina Vasorum
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Southern Italy, Campania. 4th century BC
  • Provenance: Collection of the Marquis Campana, Rome. 1862
  • Physical Dimensions: h655 mm
  • Original Title: Гидрия. "Царица ваз"
  • Type: Pottery
  • Medium: Clay; modelling, black lacquer and added paints.

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