Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
Two nude men run with swords toward a third man.

The vessel is a tall bowl with handles on either side. It is painted black, and in red there are three figures. The two figures at left and center are nude, hold swords, and appear to be running. The third figure on the right is partially obscured behind a rectangular waist-high piece of furniture. He is clothed and gestures to the other two men and to wheat behind him. There are geometric motifs along the upper rim of the vessel and bordering the scene.

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, Attica
Find Spot: 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.)


Recorded Ownership History
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

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.


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

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