Hydria (water container) with the abduction of Oreithyia by Boreas

ca. 460–450 BCEAttributed to the Niobid Painterterracotta, red-figure15 7/8 in. (40.4 cm.)

Gift of Edward Perry Warren, Esq., Honorary Degree 1926


This hydria functioned as a container for water for the all-male gathering of the symposium, with its ritualistic consumption of wine. Its iconography is complex both with respect to the mythological story itself and the detailed nature of the figures, demonstrating the skill of the Niobid Painter. In this scene, which continuously wraps around the vase, the Athenian princess, Oreithyia, is being abducted by the winged god of the North Wind, Boreas, who grabs her by the waist. Athena stands to the right of the pair, and her presence suggests this myth developed in Athens. King Erechtheus stoically witnesses the seizure of his daughter as he is surrounded by distressed female servants. What is perhaps most impressive about the Niobid Painter’s style is his ability to execute figures that cover approximately two-thirds of the side of the vessel and continue up the vase, which flattens to form the rim. Navigating this illustration on the complex hydria shape is no small feat, particularly as the artist managed to maintain the naturalism and proportionality of the figures. 

Scholar John Beazley (1885–1970) first identified this artist’s hand on a krater housed in the Louvre Museum, which illustrated the massacre of the Niobids by Apollo and Artemis. Vases in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston have been identified as the work of this artist. The MFA has a Niobid Painter hydria with a mythological scene of Orpheus that entered the collection in 1890 as a gift from Edward Perry Warren. That Warren was both the purchasing agent for the MFA’s Niobid Painter vase and the donor of this hydria reflects his prowess as a collector. Several of his donations served as the namesake vessels for artists such as the Bowdoin Eye Painter and the Bowdoin Painter, whose works are housed in institutions across the globe.

—Brooke Wrubel


Before 1908, collection of Edward Perry Warren; 1908, gifted to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art by Edward Perry Warren.

Edward Perry Warren

A testament to his impact as an influential twentieth-century American antiquities collector, Edward Perry Warren’s (1860–1928, H ’26) name is linked to hundreds of ancient objects housed in institutions across the United States, including more than five hundred works at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art alone.

Region: Greece See all 24
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