Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

It was the main duty of a Greek man to defend his city and of a Greek woman to bear children. This water jar presents a picture-perfect family: a young mother, a lively baby boy being handed to a nursemaid, and a youthful husband. A loom signals the accomplishments of the mistress of the house. The scene’s calm mood is typical for the High Classical period of the mid-fifth century BCE and prevails on grave reliefs showing similar family groups. In fact, a hole pierced in the vessel’s base renders it useless to the living and suitable for a tomb.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Hydria (water jar): Family Scene
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Red-figure Hydria (Kalpis): Family Scene in a Domestic Setting
Work Type
440-430 BCE
Find Spot: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Vari (Attica)
Classical period, High
Persistent Link
Level 3, Room 3410, South Arcade
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
H 34.6 x Diam 24.6 cm (13 5/8 x 9 11/16 in.)
Diam w/ handles 30.2 cm (11 7/8 in.)
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 #8184
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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Domestic scene, father, mother, child and nurse; loom in background. Mended.
Publication History

Eva C. Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), p. 73, fig. 58

Brian A. Sparkes, ed., Greek civilization: an introduction, Blackwell Publishers (Oxford, UK; Malden, Mass., USA, 1998), 238/14.3

Karen-Hanne Stærmose Nielsen, Kirkes Væv: Opstadvævens historie og nutidige brug, Historisk-Arkaeologisk Forsogscenter Lejre (Lejre, Denmark, 1999), p. 75, fig. 41

Pierre Brulé, Women of Ancient Greece, Edinburgh University Press (Edinburgh, 2003), p. 166

Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium (2006)

Gabriel Herman, Morality and Behaviour in Democratic Athens: A Social History, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, UK, 2006), p. 180, fig. 5.1

Marie-Claire Crelier, Kinder in Athen: im gesellschaftlichen Wandel des 5. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. (Remshalden, Germany, 2008), p. 262; n.p. H3, ill.

Elena Walter-Karydi, Die Athener und ihre Gräber (1000 – 300 v. Chr.), De Gruyter (Berlin, 2015), pp. 328-329, fig. 209

Stella Spantidaki, Textile Production in Classical Athens, 2016, p. 54, fig. 5.7

John Oakley, A Guide to Scenes of Daily Life on Athenian Vases, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, 2020), pp. 9-11, fig. 1.4

Exhibition History

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

Pandora's Box: Women in Classical Greece, The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 11/05/1995 - 01/07/1996; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, 02/04/1996 - 03/31/1996; Antikenmuseum und Sammlung Ludwig, Basel, 04/28/1996 - 06/23/1996

Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past, Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, 08/23/2003 - 12/14/2003; Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, New York, 01/20/2004 - 04/15/2004; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, 05/21/2004 - 08/01/2004; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 09/14/2004 - 12/16/2004

HAA132e The Ideal of the Everyday in Greek Art (S427) Spring 2012, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 05/12/2012

32Q: 3410 South Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

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