Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Ancient Greek athletic games took place in a religious context. On this mixing bowl for wine and water, competitors in a torch race run toward an altar with a man in priestly robes and the metal water jar (hydria) awarded to the victor. Reflecting actual practice, the youthful runners are shown nude (“gymnastics” comes from Greek gymnos, “naked”). Their bulky bodies and tiny genitalia express physical aptitude and sexual modesty. The olive tree at right suggests that the race honored the goddess Athena and was an Athenian event. The vessel was exported to Gela, a Greek city in Sicily (Italy).

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Manner of Peleus Painter, Greek
Bell Krater (bowl for mixing wine and water): Torch Race
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Red-figure Bell Krater: Torch Race with Prize Hydria; Three Youths
Work Type
c. 430-420 BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Gela (Sicily)
Classical period, High
Persistent Link
Level 3, Room 3410, South Arcade
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
36.1 cm h x 39.6 cm diam. (14 3/16 x 15 9/16 in.)
Jacob Hirsch, Geneva and Lucerne, (by 1937), sold; to David M. Robinson, Baltimore, MD, (by 1937-1958), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1960.
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
Beazley Archive Database #213533
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of David M. Robinson
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Side A: Torch race: two runners with torches, altar, olive tree, prize hydria (water jar).
Side B: Three youths, one with strigil, another with staff.
Under rim: olive wreath; ground line: meander pattern; tongue pattern at handle attachments.
Recomposed from fragments, with some inpainting.
Publication History

Susan B. Matheson, Polygnotos and Vase Painting in Classical Athens (The University of Wisconsin Press, 1995), pp. 108-115, pl. 97, p. 115.

Rosalba Panvini and Filippo Giudice, Ta Attika: Attic Figured Vases From Gela, L'Erma di Bretschneider (Rome, 2003), p. 395 (fig. L49), p. a109

Stephen Miller, Ancient Greek Athletics, Yale University Press (New Haven, 2004), p. 141, fig. 227

John J. Herrmann Jr. and Christine Kondoleon, Games for the Gods: The Greek Athlete and the Olympic Spirit, MFA Publications (Boston, MA, 2004), no. 22, pp. 71, 171

Thesaurus Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum, J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, CA, 2004-2012), II 3.a Purification, Gr. 101 [illust. pl. 2].

Zerrin Iren Boynudelik and Mahmut Boynudelik, The Color of Olive: Olive Images in Art History (Zeytinin Renkleri: Sanat Tarihinde Zeytin Imgesi), Umur Yayinlari (Istanbul, Turkey, 2011), p. 46, ill.

Claire L. Lyons, Michael J. Bennett, and Clemente Marconi, ed., Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome, exh. cat., J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles, CA, 2013), pp. 87, 89, fig. 50

David M. Pritchard, Sport, Democracy and War in Classical Athens, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, 2013), p. 77, fig. 2.3.

John Oakley, A Guide to Scenes of Daily Life on Athenian Vases, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, 2020), p. 127, fig. 6.15

Tyler Jo Smith, Religion in the Art of Archaic and Classical Greece, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, 2021), pl. 8

Exhibition History

The David Moore Robinson Bequest of Classical Art and Antiquities: A Special Exhibition, Fogg Art Museum, 05/01/1961 - 09/20/1961

Goddess and Polis: The Panathenaic Festival in Ancient Athens, Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, 09/12/1992 - 12/06/1992; Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, 01/09/1993 - 04/16/1993; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 05/11/1993 - 08/01/1993; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, 08/31/1993 - 11/28/1993

Veder Greco a Gela, Palazzo Pignatelli, Gela, 01/15/2004 - 03/16/2004

The Greek Athlete and the Games, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 07/20/2004 - 11/28/2004

32Q: 3410 South Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 07/25/2016; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/18/2016 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at