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A GREEK BRONZE BOY
A GREEK BRONZE BOY

HELLENISTIC PERIOD, CIRCA 3RD-2ND CENTURY B.C.

Details
A GREEK BRONZE BOY
HELLENISTIC PERIOD, CIRCA 3RD-2ND CENTURY B.C.
The youthful figure approximately 8-10 years of age, wearing a belted exomis tied on his left shoulder, the overfold obscuring the belt, the right shoulder and upper torso exposed, standing with his left leg advanced, both feet turned out, his torso twisting dramatically to his left with his left shoulder raised, his right lowered with his fleshy arm extending across his body, the fingers spread, the index finger separated, his left arm now lost, his head turned to his left, his oval face with arching modeled brows, thickly-lidded eyes, the pupils and irises articulated, a small rounded nose, pudgy cheeks, bow-shaped lips and a pointed chin, his short curly hair impressionistically detailed
16 ¼ in. (41.2 cm.) high
Provenance
with Kende Auctions, Vienna.
with Spink & Son, London, acquired from the above, 1930.
Dr Ernst Holzer, Graz, Austria, acquired from the above, 1936; thence by descent.

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Lot Essay

During the Hellenistic period, as sculpture increasingly was created for display in the homes of the wealthy, a new range of subjects became popular. Artists were increasingly concerned with accurate depictions of the diversity of humanity, from childhood to old age, including physical deformity, and also the veristic representation of famous rulers and thinkers, past and present. Earlier Greek depictions of children tended to show them as diminutive adults, their smaller scale being the only indication of their age. By the end of the 4th century B.C., accurate depictions of youth are found in relief on grave stelai and in the round in the form of votive statues. See for example the stele for a girl in the Getty Villa and the seated statue of a girl in Athens, no. 125 and fig. 14 in J. Neils and J.H. Oakley, Coming of Age in Ancient Greece, Images of Childhood from the Classical Past.

The subject of the exceptional bronze presented here is somewhat enigmatic. The type of tunic that he wears, an exomis, is typically worn by slaves, laborers and fishermen. See for example the bronze figure of an African beggar in Cleveland, no. 20 in A.P. Kozloff and D.G. Mitten, et al., The Gods Delight, The Human Figure in Classical Bronze, and the bronze street hawker in the Louvre, no. 300 in C. Rolley, Greek Bronzes. Both are thought to have originated in Alexandria, where many statues depicting the lowest strata of society, verging on caricature, were popularized. On a larger scale is the bronze jockey found off the coast of Cape Artemision and now in Athens, pl. 75 in B.S. Ridgeway, Hellenistic Sculpture II, The Styles of ca. 200-100 B.C.

It is likely that this bronze was originally part of a group, since his twisting body and upward gaze seem to suggest that he was interacting with another figure. The now-missing separately-cast arm may have presented the clue to his employment. Perhaps, like the similarly clad jockey, he was originally associated with horses, serving as a groom, his upraised hand once holding the lead rope. Whatever the subject, the high quality of this bronze is clearly evident. The dynamic twisting posture, no doubt meant to be viewed from all angles, as well as the sensitivity afforded to the subject, are hallmarks of the Hellenistic Period.

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