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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Attributed to The Bryn Mawr Painter, Greek
Plate: Woman Playing Kottabos
Work Type
480 BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Vari (Attica)
Classical period, Early
Persistent Link


Level 3, Room 3400, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Ancient Greece in Black and Orange
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Physical Descriptions

2.5 cm h x 21.8 cm diam. (1 x 8 9/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
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 #213353

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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On this plate interior, a woman reclines on a couch into a plush and decorated pillow. She wears a long tunic with fine creases done in diluted glaze with a mantle thrown over her legs. Her hair is pulled back into a dotted headdress (sakkos). She holds two wine cups, one rendered in silhouette held close to her body, the other in her extended hand as she plays the game kottabos. In a symposium (drinking party), this game involved the tossing of the wine dregs left over at the bottom of a cup at a target, sometimes as one calls out the name of his lover. In the background behind her feet, an empty pipe case hangs on the wall, suggesting that the pipe player is somewhere unseen in this scene, accompanying the party with music.
Since symposia were restricted to male participants with the exception of female entertainers, such as prostitutes or hetairai, this image, which is in fact quite unusual, can be interpreted as a kind of humorous parody. Instead of a man reclining and consuming wine, as would be expected, the roles are swapped, where the woman, most likely a prostitute or other kind of entertainer, takes his place on the couch. The irony of this scene is emphasized by her participation in kottabos, where normally the man might be calling her name as he aims at the target, she instead replaces him, potentially calling his name. There are two holes at the top of the plate, suggesting that it was suspended, though where exactly is unclear.

Publication History

  • Frank J. Frost, Greek Society, D. C. Heath and Co. (1980), p. 130.
  • 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. 12, no. 19.
  • I. Peschel, "Die Hetäre bei Symposium und Komos in der attisch rotfigurigen Malerei des 6.-4. Jhs. v.Chr." (Frankfurt, 1987), pl. 73.
  • Joyce Salisbury, Encyclopedia of Women in the Ancient World (Santa Barbara, California, 2001)
  • [Reproduction Only], Persephone, (Spring 2004)., p. 79.

Exhibition History

  • The David Moore Robinson Bequest of Classical Art and Antiquities: A Special Exhibition, Fogg Art Museum, 05/01/1961 - 09/20/1961
  • Dialogue with Antiquity: The Curatorial Achievement of George M.A. Hanfmann, Fogg Art Museum, 05/07/1982 - 06/26/1982
  • Fragments of Antiquity: Drawing Upon Greek Vases, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/15/1997 - 12/28/1997
  • HAA132e The Ideal of the Everyday in Greek Art (S427) Spring 2012, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2012 - 05/12/2012
  • 32Q: 3400 Greek, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

  • Google Art Project

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Verification Level

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