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A figure plays music while another watches a woman dance.

The vessel is a tall bowl with handles on either side. It is painted black, and in red there are three figures. The figure on the left is nude with laurels in his hair, and is seated playing a flute. The central figure has long hair, wears laurels and robes, and is holding a branch. The figure on the right is a woman and has a snake on her head. She holds a large disc and her head is bowed and legs bent, possibly dancing. There are geometric motifs along the upper rim of the vessel and bordering the scene.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
The Curti Painter, Greek (440 - 430 BCE)
Bell Krater (mixing bowl for wine and water): Dionysos with Satyr and Maenad; Death of Orpheus
Work Type
c. 440 BCE-430 BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Athens (Attica)
Classical period, High
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

30 cm h x 25.2 cm diam. (11 13/16 x 9 15/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Hamburger Collection Frankfurt. [Rudolph Lepke's Kunst-Auctions-Haus, Berlin, Katalog, 2035,"Werke Antiker Kunst, Sammlungen A. Loebbecke-Braunschweig und Dr. Witte-Rostock," p. 14, pl. III, no. 458. by 1930]. David M. Robinson, Oxford, Mississippi, (by 1937-1959) bequest; to the Fogg Museum, 1960.

State, Edition, Standard Reference Number

Standard Reference Number
Beazley Archive Database #213539

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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Attic red-figure bell krater. SIDE A: Dionysus with a satyr and a maenad. The satyr plays a flute, and wears a wreath on his head. The Maenad plays a drum. Movement is indicated by her pose and the flowing skirt of her chiton, suggesting that she might be dancing. Her hair is encircled with a wreath made of two snakes. White paint is added to the tassel on the drum. In the center, Dionysus stands wearing a himation over a chiton. He is bearded, and his long hair is encircled by an ivy wreath. He holds an ivy staff in his right hand and pours wine from a kantharos with his left hand. SIDE B: The death of Orpheus. The three figures are set in an incised rock landscape atop a meander frieze. Left: one of the Thracian maenads wears a chlamys over a chiton, with her hair bound by a sphendone. She stabs Orpheus with a long spear. Center: Orpheus, nude with a folded mantle around his shoulders and left arm. He moves to avoid the woman’s spear, stretching out his right leg and supporting himself with his left hand. He holds his lyre above his head with his right arm. Right: a second Thracian maenad, wearing a peplos, with her hair also bound by a sphendone. Her contorted pose is awkwardly rendered, with her left arm and hand crossing her body holding a Thracian knife, and her right hand grasping the lyre. The strings of the lyre are painted in black paint added over the black background.

Publication History

  • Werke Antiker Kunst Sammlung A. Loebbecke-Braunschweig Sammlung Dr. Witte-Rostock, auct. cat. (Berlin, November 12, 1930), no. 458, pl. 3
  • Caroline Houser, Dionysos and His Circle: Ancient Through Modern, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, 1979), no. 12.
  • Susan B. Matheson, Polygnotos and Vase Painting in Classical Athens (The University of Wisconsin Press, 1995), pp. 129-134, pl. 118, p. 134.
  • Dimitris Kourkoumelis and Panos Valavanis, "Drinking Vessels = Chaire kai piei" (Athens, 1996), 41
  • Thomas Carpenter, Dionysian Imagery in Fifth-Century Athens, The Clarendon Press (Oxford, 1997), Pl. 30B
  • Despoina Tsiaphake, E thrake sten attike eikonographia tou 5ou aiona p.Ch. : prosengiseis stis schesis athenas kai thrakes, Morphotikos Homilos Komotenes, Kentro Thrakikon Meleton (Komotene, Greece, 1998), pp. 69, 339-340, figs.18a-b
  • Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (LIMC), Artemis (Zürich, Switzerland, 1999), Dionysos 314; Orpheus 50.
  • Sheramy D. Bundrick, Music and Image in Classical Athens, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY, 2005), pg. 210
  • Carlos García Gual and David Hernández de la Fuente, El mito de Orfeo: Estudio y tradición poética, Fondo de Cultura Económica de España (Madrid, 2015), p. 25, ill.
  • Patrick Coleman, ed., The Art of Music, San Diego Museum of Art (New Haven, 2015), p. 138, fig. 116
  • El Arte de la Música, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City, 2016), p. 119

Exhibition History

  • The David Moore Robinson Bequest of Classical Art and Antiquities: A Special Exhibition, Fogg Art Museum, 05/01/1961 - 09/20/1961
  • Dionysos and His Circle: Ancient through Modern, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 12/10/1979 - 02/10/1980
  • 32Q: 3620 University Study Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/27/2022 - 01/01/2023

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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