Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Terracotta squat lekythos (oil flask)

ca. 420 B.C.
Greek, Attic
Terracotta; red-figure
6 3/16 × 2 3/4 in. (15.7 × 7 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1956
Accession Number:
Not on view
Philoktetes on Lemnos

The painter, as yet unidentified, has created an exceptionally expressive composition on this vase. It concerns Philoktetes, a Greek hero who inherited the arrows of Herakles, thus their prominence here. In the story of the Trojan War, these arrows were necessary for the conquest of the city. On the way from Greece, Philoktetes was bitten by a snake that had caused such a painful and foul-smelling wound that he had to be left on the island of Lemnos. Philoktetes, downcast, sits under a barren tree and holds his bandaged foot—a picture of utter despondency. Ultimately, he will be rescued and healed.
By 1879 and until 1884, collection of Alessandro Castellani; by 1888, collection of Sir Hermann David Weber, London; after 1918, collection of William Randolph Hearst, New York and San Simeon; 1951-1956, with the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, New York; acquired in 1956, purchased from the W. R. Hearst Corporation.
von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1957. "Greek Vases from the Hearst Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, 15(7): pp. 166, 179.

Musée & Galerie des Beaux-Arts. 1981. Profil du Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York : de Ramsès à Picasso. no. 46, p. 58, Paris: Musée & Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux.

Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneliese, Brigitte Servais-Soyez, Fulvio Canciani, Giovannangelo Camporeale, Hans Peter Isler, Ingrid Krauskopf, Odette Touchefeu-Meynier, Marcel Le Glay, and Dr. Jean-Charles Balty. 1994. Oidipous-Theseus, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 7. Philoktetes, no. 21, Zürich: Artemis Verlag Zurich und Munchen.

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