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Belly-Amphora (Storage Jar)

A work made of terracotta, decorated in the black-figure technique.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of terracotta, decorated in the black-figure technique.


550-540 BCE


Attributed to the Painter of Berlin 1686 or the Painter of Tarquinia RC 3984
Greek; Athens

About this artwork

Ancient artists frequently depicted events from the life of the demigod Herakles, especially the Twelve Labors he had to complete to attain immortality. On this amphora (storage jar) the great hero completes his first assignment—to kill a lion with an invincible hide that was terrorizing the village of Nemea. Here the contest has been decided; Herakles strangles the lion, whose jaws he has pried open with his bare hands. To the right stand Athena and Hermes; on the other stand a nymph and Iolaos, Herakles’s nephew and companion. In subsequent episodes, Herakles often wears the lion’s pelt, either as a headdress or over his arm, as a protective cloak.

These vases were used for the transport and storage of items such as wine and olives, and they were given as prizes in athletic competitions. Many vases have been damaged, either in antiquity or in modern times, and repaired. However, this amphora remains intact, with only a few losses, such as the chips on the rim, and some surface abrasion. The vivid white gloss that highlights the women’s skin and the shield is especially well preserved.

On View

Ancient and Byzantine Art, Gallery 153


Painter of Tarquinia RC 3984


Belly-Amphora (Storage Jar)




550 BCE–540 BCE


terracotta, decorated in the black-figure technique


28.2 × 21.6 × 19 cm (10 3/4 × 8 1/2 × 7 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Katherine K. Adler Memorial Fund

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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