Loutrophoroi, originally vases used for ritual baths, such as the one for a bride and groom before their wedding, were symbols of marriage. However, beginning in the fourth century B.C., they came to serve as tomb monuments or as offerings at the tombs of those who died young and unmarried. In this connection, they were usually decorated with either tragic scenes or mythological portrayals of love and marriage.
The obverse of this vase depicts the myth of Perseus slaying the sea monster and rescuing the Ethiopian princess Andromeda, who he later marries. Queen Cassiopeia of Ethiopia once boasted that she was more beautiful than all the Nereids, angering them and Poseidon. To punish her arrogance, Poseidon flooded her land and sent a sea monster (ketos) to terrorise her people. Her husband, King Cepheus, was told by an oracle that he must give his daughter Andromeda to the gods in appeasement. This scene is shown in the centre of the vase, as Princess Andromeda is chained to the rocks with offerings before her. In the bottom right, we see the heroic Perseus slaying the ketos, having spotted Andromeda and fallen in love with her on his way home from beheading Medusa. A winged Eros flies down to crown Perseus with a wreath; he later marries Andromeda once he has freed her. Surrounding the main scene there are a number of barbarian figures, including an aposkopeuon keeping watch.
On the reverse, the Danaid Amymone is depicted filling up a hydria from a lion-spout in a fountain-house. She too is surrounded by figures holding religious objects such as phiales and wreaths, as well as Eros holding a fillet and Poseidon, distinguishable by his trident in hand. According the the myth, Poseidon saved Amymone from the aggression of a satyr and, in order to gain her favour he showed her the ancient springs of Lerna.
The neck of the vase’s front side is decorated with another Eros, and the reverse side by a running woman, holding a wreath and a phiale. The shoulders shows a head surrounded by tendrils on the front and running animals, including lions, a boar and a swan, at the back
The elaborate decorating scheme and the confidence of the brushstrokes are the work of an incredibly skilled artist, compared by Trendall to works of the Painter of Naples 3242. These workshops are considered the forerunners of the Darius Painter, one of the most important representatives of the Ornate Style. Apulian artists of this period are the first to experiment with vases of monumental scale, which offered new possibilities to represent complex myths with bewildering compositions. For another loutrophoros decorated with Andromeda chained to the rocks and Perseus slaying a ketos, cf. K. Schauenburg, "Andromeda", Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, I, 1981, p. 777, no. 15.