Mixing bowl (calyx krater) with scenes of abduction or pursuit
about 460–450 B.C.
the Niobid Painter
Place of Manufacture: Greece, Attica, Athens
Height: 48 cm (18 7/8 in.); diameter: 50 cm (19 11/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Ceramic, Red Figure
Not On View
Scenes in two registers. Top: Peleus abducting Thetis in presence of Cheiron, Nereids and Nereus. Lower zone, A: Zephyros pursuing Phoibe (?); B: domestic scene in women’s quarters. Foot broken and repaired; also handle A/B. Body cracked from rim to handle-root, above handle B/A.
The two horizontal registers on this krater depict two scenes of abduction or pursuit. In the lower register, a winged god, perhaps a personification of one of the winds, pursues a maiden. In the upper zone, the painter has represented the abduction of Thetis by Peleus. Thetis was destined to bear a son who would be more powerful than his father. Fearing such a threatening offspring, Zeus and Poseidon gave Thetis to Peleus. Indeed Thetis’ son was a powerful one; the result of her union with Peleus was the Trojan War hero Achilles. In this scene, Peleus sweeps Thetis up in his arms while his ally Cheiron the centaur looks on. Thetis’ father, the ocean-god Nereus, observes from his position at the back of the vase. The Nereids, the sea-nymph sisters of Thetis, carry fish as they run to assist Thetis and to alert Nereus.
In the lower register on the reverse of the vase is what appears to be a domestic scene. A seated woman holding a mirror is surrounded by other women. This scene probably represents a part of some greater narrative that is lost to us today, but it would have been recognizable to the fifth century Greeks.
By 1972: with Robert E. Hecht, Jr.; purchased by MFA from Robert E. Hecht, Jr., September 13, 1972
Mary S. and Edward Jackson Holmes Fund