Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
This object does not yet have a description.

Gallery Text

Why Is This Pitcher So Big?

This pitcher is obviously far too large to use for pouring drinks. It probably marked the grave of a wealthy citizen of Athens, Greece, who lived some 2,700 years ago. The dense geometric patterns encasing long-limbed and slender-necked animals suggest an exciting visual world. Much costly work and skill went into making this giant vessel! It announced the family’s wealth and presence to anyone who saw the funeral or the grave.

Whose grave did it mark? We don’t know. But we do know the names of many other ancient people whose graves contained the objects now in our galleries. Look to the left, for instance, to meet a young girl named Melisto (accession number: 1961.86), who lived about 400 years later in the same region of Greece.

Caring for the Dead at the Harvard Art Museums

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Attributed to The Lion Painter, Greek (735 BCE - 700 BCE)
Monumental Olpe (pitcher)
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Attic Funerary Monument in the Form of a Pitcher - Olpe
Work Type
c. 730-700 BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Attica
Geometric period, Late
Persistent Link


Level 3, Room 3410, South Arcade
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

66 cm h x 35.2 cm diam (26 x 13 7/8 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
[Ephron Gallery, 67 East 57th Street, New York City, 1950], sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1950.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Francis H. Burr Memorial Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Publication History

  • David Gordon Mitten and Amy Brauer, Dialogue with Antiquity, The Curatorial Achievement of George M. A. Hanfmann, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1982), p. 10, no. 4, ill. p. 5.
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), p. 100, no. 110, ill.
  • Susan Langdon, ed., From Pasture to Polis: Art in the Age of Homer, exh. cat., University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO, 1993), p. 202-205, no. 79, pl. 16

Exhibition History

  • Dialogue with Antiquity: The Curatorial Achievement of George M.A. Hanfmann, Fogg Art Museum, 05/07/1982 - 06/26/1982
  • From Pasture to Polis: Art in the Age of Homer, Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri, Columbia, 10/09/1993 - 12/05/1993
  • 32Q: 3410 South Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

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