Bell krater

Greek, South Italian
Late Classical Period
350–335 B.C.
Painter Python

Place of Manufacture: Italy, Paestum

Catalogue Raisonné

Vase-Painting in Italy (MFA), no. 098.


33 cm (13 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Ceramic, Red Figure

Not On View


Europe, The Ancient World



Bearded satyr leaning on square pillar, tossing stones with his right hand.

Attributed to Python
350-335 B.C.

A: Dionysos stands at the left, his thyrsos leaning against his left arm. He wears shoes, a bracelet, a beaded bandoleer, a beaded fillet, and a bordered himation; the thyrsos, jewelry, and beads are all in yellow. With his right hand, he offers a white egg to the young satyr at right, who stands with his right foot on a hummock, bending forward slightly with a white fillet held in both hands. In the god’s left hand is a yellow wreath or necklace. The satyr has a white tail and wears shoes, a yellow wreath, and a bandoleer and thigh-chain of yellow beads.
B: A bearded satyr wearing a white and yellow wreath, shoes, and a beaded bandoleer casually leans his left elbow on a low pillar, his legs crossed. He holds a fillet and a tambourine in his left hand, a fillet and a “skewer of fruit” in his right. At the lower left, beneath the satyr’s extended right hand, is an altar with offerings on top: three white dots, possibly eggs.
A wreath of laurel circles the vase below the rim. A band of wave-pattern circles the lower body. Below each handle is a large palmette. Tall framing palmettes frame both scenes.
The same subjects, in varying compositions, are very common among the vases of Python, particularly on bell-kraters. Sometimes Dionysos is seated (e.g., Trendall, RVP, no. 2/232, pl. 86a), or it is he who rests one foot on a rock or hummock (e.g., idem. RVP, no. 2/237, pl. 87c); sometimes the satyr facing the god is a bearded adult (e.g., idem, RVP, no. 2/261, pl. 97a) For the posture of the satyr on the reverse, compare Trendall, RVP, no. 2/270, pl. 100a. According to Trendall, “NumAntCl 19” (1990), p. 126, the objects in the Paestan “skewer of fruit” are probably cakes of some kind.
The sizes, subjects, decorative schemes, and common origin suggest that this vase and the following one (cat. no. 99) were a pair and probably came from the same tomb.


By date unknown: Mr. and Mrs. George Washington Wales Collection (according to MFA file card: bought with 95.835 in Naples for $20.00); dates unknown: on loan to MFA (Robinson catalogue, no. 493); gift of Mr. and Mrs. George Washington Wales to MFA, March 28, 1895

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George Washington Wales