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Work Coronet of laurel leaves and berries

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

Coronet of laurel leaves and berries

© 2001 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

Author(s):
Astier Marie-Bénédicte

This coronet, decorated with laurel leaves and berries (now detached), was discovered at Erythrai in Asia Minor, where it may have been made in the 4th century BC. The leaves are executed in great detail, typical of the naturalistic style developed by Greek goldsmiths of the time. Coronets such as this were widely used in the Classical period. They were often presented to city rulers and magistrates, used to decorate statues of the gods, or buried in graves with the deceased.

The work of a goldsmith in the Classical period

This coronet was presented to the Louvre in 1900 by the collector Paul Gaudin. It was discovered in the ancient city of Erythrai on the central coast of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), and was probably made locally in the 4th century BC, from a gold sheet hammered and molded into shape. Greek metalwork flourished during this period, with artists developing inventive designs, new forms, and a rich stylistic repertoire.

Funeral, votive or ceremonial finery

Finery of this type was made in great quantities throughout the Greek world during the Classical period, gradually replacing the plain gold bands of the Archaic period. Numerous examples of these evidently highly fashionable coronets were found during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, especially in tombs. They were used on a variety of occasions, notably civic or religious ceremonies, and for funerals. They were also worn by city rulers (the citizens of Delos presented one to Eumenes II of Pergamum) and magistrates, and were used to adorn statues of the divinities as well as the bodies of deceased dignitaries.

A great sense of naturalism

Prestigious ornaments, such as this, generally feature closely observed natural motifs. Naturalism was a prime concern for goldsmiths of the period, whose works feature extraordinarily life-like reproductions of fruit and foliage: oak, myrtle, olive, laurel, ivy etc. The supporting structure of this wreath, made from a gold stem around a bronze core, is decorated with fine laurel leaves and small berries arranged in groups of five, now detached. The artisans' desire for impressive verisimilitude was doubtless spurred by the long-standing tradition of presenting real laurel wreaths, which continued beyond the Classical period.

Technical description

  • Coronet of laurel leaves and berries

    4th century BC

    Erythrai, Asia Minor (present-day Turkey)

    Asia Minor (present-day Turkey)

  • Molded and hammeredGold and bronze

    Diam. 25 cm

  • Gift of Paul Gaudin, 1900

    Bj 118

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Bronzes room
    Room 32, temporarily closed to the public, works n

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