The subject of Zeus hurling a thunderbolt, or Zeus Keraunios, is known from numerous statuettes beginning in the Archaic period (see G.W. Elderkin, "Bronze Statuettes of Zeus Keraunios," in AJA, vol. 44, no. 2, pp. 225-233). Frequently but not exclusively his eagle sits on the outstretched arm. The finest example of the type is the superb over-lifesized bronze statue from Cape Artemision, now in Athens. The subject has been previously identified as Poseidon perhaps because of its discovery in the sea, but most assuredly is Zeus on account of the absence of a chlamys draped over the arms. After the 5th century B.C., depictions of Zeus Keraunios in the round are comparatively rare, although the type was used on coins from the Late Classical Period into Roman Imperial times (see for example the reverse of a gold stater issued by Diodotos of Bactria, circa 230 B.C., no. 524 in G.K. Jenkins, Ancient Greek Coins), and there are some small bronze statuettes from the Roman period (see nos. 127-129 in F. Canciani, "Iuppiter," in LIMC, vol. VIII). Thus, the statuette presented here is a rare survivor from the Hellenistic Period, unusually large in scale.
The figure's dramatic motion and swelling musculature are hallmarks of the Hellenistic Period. For the details of the face, the jutting beard and the arcing hair compare the Hellenistic statuette of Poseidon, of similar scale, now in the Antikensammlung in Munich, fig. 17 in B. Barr-Sharrar, "How Important is Provenance? Archaeological and Stylistic Questions in the Attribution of Ancient Bronzes," in M. True and J. Podany, eds., Small Bronze Sculpture from the Ancient World. The tight curls in relief along the top and back of the head are closely paralleled on a bronze statuette of a youth, also circa 2nd century B.C., from the Antikythera shipwreck, no. 38 in N. Kaltsas, E. Vlachogianni, and P. Bouyia, The Antikythera Shipwreck: the Ship, the Treasures, the Mechanism.