Beauty of ancient Greek hydria makes it a perfect addition to any decor

The Smart Collector

WHAT: An ancient Greek hammered-bronze hydria (water pot) from the classical period (mid-5th century BCE) that sold recently for $31,125 at Artemis Gallery was distinguished for its patina and handles. Traditionally, hydrias have three handles, and many are fluted. Here, handles are rounded, which adds to overall elegance of the shape.

Most significant is the stunning natural patina of blues, greens and teal. That kind of coloration cannot be faked.

MORE: In art of the period, hydrias are often pictured on the shoulders of women gathered at watercourses. Two handles at the front were for lifting; the one at the back was for tipping or pouring. Size here was 14 inches wide by 13.5 inches high.


SMART COLLECTORS KNOW: Antiquities from any era are not a genre for innocents. Fakery, illegal acquisition (theft) and outright deception have been part of the scene since ancient Greece and before. Any aficionado who is less than a true expert must buy through, or under the advice of, a known, established expert. The fact that all bidding for this lot was online tells you something about the comfort level bidders had concerning both the auction house and, the platform that carried the sale.

HOT TIP: According to Artemis, bronze hydrias were used for funerary purposes. That may explain the remarkable condition of this example.

BOTTOM LINE: This particular hydria is a remarkable piece of history. But in today’s market, an eclectic mix of styles rule. Color, shape and pure aesthetic appeal also make it a perfect addition to any decor. Traditional collectors may cringe, but these days purists are not the only ones buying remarkable objects.