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Work Athena the Warrior: decorative element for a utensil or item of furniture

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)

Athèna combattant : décor d'ustensile ou de meuble

© 2003 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Archaic Greek Art (7th-6th centuries BC)

Author(s):
Marie-Bénédicte Astier

As indicated by the groove running around the lower edge of the tunic, this bronze statuette was mounted as a decoration for a utensil or fine piece of furniture. It depicts the goddess Athena as a warrior, wearing a helmet and originally armed with a spear and shield. Although it was found at Kirrha near Delphi, the type of helmet depicted, the facial features and the style of clothing indicate that the work was made in Laconia in the Archaic period, circa 540 BC.

An Athena Promachos

Discovered in 1892 at Kirrha, near the temple at Delphi (north of the Gulf of Corinth), this bronze statuette entered the collections of the Louvre four years later, after being purchased from a private collector. It depicts the goddess Athena in her role as a warrior ('promachos' in Greek), fighting with a weapon in hand. Wearing a high-crested helmet, she brandished a spear in her right hand while protecting herself with a round shield attached to the armband on her left forearm. These attributes are now lost.

Decoration of a utensil or item of furniture

Although cut off just above the knee, the statuette is none the less complete. It was set into a support, as indicated by the shallow groove running around the lower edge of the tunic, suggesting that it was used as an ornament for a fine utensil or piece of furniture - almost certainly made of wood - which has not survived.

A Laconian work of the sixth century BC

The figurine was made in the Archaic period, c.540 BC, using the lost-wax solid-casting technique. Although it was found in Phocis, it is the work of a craftsman from the Spartan city of Laconia, in the southern Peloponnese. In typically Laconian style, it has an oval face with prominent almond-shaped eyes. The arrangement of the garment, a very short peplos with overfold, is also characteristic of local work, as are the vertical grooves carved on each side of the statuette below the belt. The helmet, finally, is a variation of those found on certain Laconian kouroi (male statues) of the period, cut around the ears, and with a neck protector but no cheek protectors.

Bibliography

Rolley Cl., Les statuettes de bronze, FD V, 1969, n 246, pp. 189-90, pl. 57.

Technical description

  • Athèna combattant : décor d'ustensile ou de meuble

    Vers 540 avant J.-C.

    Provenance : Kirrha, près de Delphes

    Style laconien

  • Bronze

    H. : 13,50 cm.

  • Collection Convert, 1896

    Br 145

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Bronzes room
    Room 32, temporarily closed to the public, works n
    Vitrine C1 : Grèce archaïque, VIe siècle avant J.-C.

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