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Work Statuette

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: The Origins of Greek Art, the Bronze Age, and the Geometric Style (3200-720 BC)

Adorant

© 1997 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
The Origins of Greek Art, the Bronze Age, and the Geometric Style (3200-720 BC)

Author(s):
Astier Marie-Bénédicte

This male statuette is thought to have been discovered in the Cave of Psychro in Crete. It is evidence of the boom in small bronze statuary in Minoan art circa 1500 BC. The man is wearing a long loincloth, fastened at the waist by a ringed belt. This type of figurine, with its pronounced curves and right arm raised in a sign of devotion, is similar to several statuettes of adorants discovered in Cretan sanctuaries, such as Tylissos, Patsos, and Skoteino.

A vestige of Minoan art

The dimensions, elegant limbs, and elongated form of this male statuette are characteristic of Minoan art at its Cretan zenith circa 1500 BC, during the Neopalatial period (period of the second palaces). The man is standing, with his back strongly arched and his torso bent sharply back. He is wearing a long loincloth, fastened at the waist by a ringed belt. The face is treated summarily, and is almost expressionless. The figure is comparable to the painted and sculpted representations uncovered during excavations at the palace of the mythical King Minos in Knossos, the principal city of ancient Crete.

The religious context

This object was probably discovered in the Cave of Psychro, not far from Mount Ida in Crete. This region was a sacred place in the Minoan religion, and home to numerous sanctuaries. According to legend, it was the birthplace of Zeus. He also grew up here after being entrusted by his mother Rhea to the Curetes and the goat (or nymph) Amalthaea, in order to escape his father, Cronus, who sought to devour him. Several small figurines, similar in size and pose to this one, have also been found in the Cretan cave sanctuaries of Skoteino, Patsos, and Tylissos. These figures are generally depicted as adorants, with their right arms raised up to their faces in a gesture of prayer and devotion. This type of representation in the round may have been worshipped in sanctuaries: this is all the more likely given that they have also been found in some figurative religious scenes in the paintings and glyptics of the period. However, it is difficult to ascertain whether this figure is a god, a servant or the dedicant of the work.

The boom in small bronze sculptures

The production of small bronze objects was particularly prolific in Crete during the sixteenth and fifteenth centuries BC. Numerous figurines of men and animals were placed in sanctuaries as votive offerings to the divinity or cult objects. The Louvre statuette was made using the lost-wax casting technique: the sprue, which has been retained beneath the feet of the figure, serves as its support. The skin was not touched up after casting, as was customary in Minoan workshops.

Bibliography

A. Pasquier, Les Antiquités grecques. Guide du visiteur, musée du Louvre, Paris, 2002, p. 18.

Technical description

  • Adorant

    Minoen Récent I (vers 1500 avant J.-C.)

    Provenance : grotte de Psychro (Crète)

  • Alliage cuivreux

    H. : 18 cm.

  • Known as the "Adorant of Psychro"

    Br 4294

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

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