© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1960.350
People
Attributed to The Bryn Mawr Painter, Greek
Title
Plate: Woman Playing Kottabos
Classification
Vessels
Work Type
vessel
Date
480 BCE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Vari (Attica)
Period
Classical period, Early
Culture
Greek
Location
Level 3, Room 3400, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art, Ancient Greece in Black and Orange
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Terracotta
Technique
Red-figure
Dimensions
2.5 cm h x 21.8 cm diam. (1 x 8 9/16 in.)
Provenance
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
1960
Object Number
1960.350
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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.
Descriptions
Description
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.
Commentary
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.

[Reproduction Only], Persephone, (Spring 2004)., p. 79.

Exhibition History

Dialogue with Antiquity: The Curatorial Achievement of George M.A. Hanfmann, Fogg Art Museum, 05/07/1982 - 06/26/1982

The David Moore Robinson Bequest of Classical Art and Antiquities: A Special Exhibition, Fogg Art Museum, 05/01/1961 - 09/20/1961

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

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 am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu