Go to content Go to navigation Go to search Change language

Home>Collection & Louvre Palace>Curatorial Departments>Hydria

Work Hydria

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)


© 1997 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

Astier Marie-Bénédicte

Although hydriae in clay were used to hold water, their bronze counterparts found in temples were sometimes awarded to the victors of certain competitions, or used to hold the ashes of the dead. This hydria was created in the first half of the fifth century BCE by a workshop in the northern Peloponnese. It was restored in Antiquity, when the original vertical handle was replaced by an older one with the head of a Gorgon, made in Corinth c.550-525 BCE.

A funerary urn or a prize given to victorious athletes

This bronze hydria (Greek for "water vessel") entered the Louvre collections in 1967, when H. de Boisgelin donated the de Clercq collection to the museum. Like many objects in this collection, amassed primarily in the Near East, it was found at Paphos on the island of Cyprus. The foot of the vase is missing. When made of clay, this type of potbellied, three-handled vessel was generally used to hold water. Bronze hydriae, which have been found in temples and tombs, were given as prizes to victorious athletes or used to hold the ashes of the dead.

A hydria from the "Patras group"

This vessel appears to have been created in the first half of the fifth century BCE (late Archaic Period) in a workshop in Achaia or Elis in the northern Peloponnese. Its profile and the presence of a repoussé line circling the neck halfway up place it in the "Patras group", named after the Achaean city-state. This group comprises some twenty hydria with hammered bodies and cast rims. The attachment points of the vertical handles (and usually the horizontal ones as well) take the form of solid and open-work ivy leaves. In this case, the horizontal handles are decorated with palmettes and heads of ducks, so indicating that this a transitional example.

The restored handle: of Corinthian manufacture

The hydria shows signs of having been restored in Antiquity. The original vertical handle was attached to the flat part of the vessel's lip by two rivets, which are still visible. It was replaced by an older handle, decorated with a Gorgon's head, rams and lions. This type of hexagonal-faced gorgoneion, with her elongated eyes, small nose and thin mouth, is characteristic of Corinthian (or Corinthian-influenced) productions. The current handle appears to have been created between 550 and 525 BCE in the region of Corinth, perhaps in the city-state itself. It was subsequently re-used on this vessel, which was made several decades later in a neighboring workshop. This type of re-use is not uncommon: two other cases are known, one in the Olympia Museum and the other at the Walters Gallery in Baltimore.


Autour de la Dame de Vix : Celtes, Grecs et Etrusques, musée du Châtillonais, Châtillon-sur-Seine, 2003, pp. 108-9, n 66.
C. Rolley, "Deux gorgones, deux problèmes. A propos de deux bronzes grecs du Louvre", Revue du Louvre 31, 6, 1981, pp. 326-30.

Technical description

  • Hydrie

    Première moitié du Ve siècle avant J.-C.

    Atelier du Nord du Péloponnèse

  • Bronze

    H. : 39 cm.

  • Collection de Clercq, don Boisgelin, 1967 , 1967

    Br 4468 - Br 4469

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Bronzes room
    Room 663
    Vitrine C1 : Grèce archaïque, VIe siècle avant J.-C.

Practical information

In line with the measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Musée du Louvre and Musée National Eugène Delacroix are closed until further notice.
All those who have purchased a ticket for this period will automatically receive a refund—no action is required.
Thank you for your understanding.

The Tuileries and Carrousel gardens remain open.