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Work Warrior

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

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Warrior?

© RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

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

Author(s):
Astier Marie-Bénédicte

This small votive bronze reproduces the image of a warrior wearing a hat in the form of a pilos and armed with a lance, which has since been lost, and a shield, of which only the arm strap remains. Modeled on a famous work of large statuary, similar to the Riace Warrior A, it was made around the middle of the fifth century BC. The innovations of the Severe style are discernible, both in the observation and mastery of the male nude and the balance that governs the figure at rest.

The image of a warrior

This bronze statuette entered the Louvre in 1967 along with several other pieces from the Clercq collection (given by Henri de Boisgelin). It is thought to come from Megara (southwest Attica), where it may have been dedicated to some local divinity, and it probably depicts a warrior, who was formerly identified as Ulysses, the king of Ithaca. Wearing a conical hat in the form of a pilos, the figure was originally leaning on a lance that has now been lost, which he was holding by his right side. In his left arm he was carrying a shield, which has also disappeared; all that remains is the arm-strap (porpax) against his forearm and the trace of a small mortise that enabled the shield to be fixed to its strap.

Echo of a famous work from the fifth century BC

This statuette reproduces a statue created around the middle of the fifth century BC, probably a celebrated work, whose memory is preserved in several terracotta figurines. It has justifiably been compared with the "Riace Warrior A," one of the few bronze originals of large-scale statuary ever discovered. The lengthened form of the Louvre statuette, the warrior's pose and how he is balanced, and the treatment of musculature are to a lesser degree reminiscent of this large bronze, discovered in 1972 of the coast of southern Italy near Riace, which is now in the National Museum of Archaeology of Reggio Calabria.

The innovations of the Severe Style

Made around 460 BC using the lost-wax solid casting process, this small bronze is evidence of the aesthetic innovations made by sculptors of the Severe Style generation, immediately after the Archaic period and on the cusp of classicism. The modeling is more supple, and the anatomy is perfectly mastered and now governed by a new rhythm. The movement of the muscles accompanies the jutting hip that now animates the figure at rest, but with no repercussion on the line of the shoulders, which remain straight. The "contrapposto" formula, elaborated by Polykleitos of Argos around the middle of the fifth century BC, has not yet been adopted. The man is leaning on his right leg while his left leg is flexed, liberated from the weight of the body. His jutting hip makes his pelvis tip sideways, the various muscles of the abdomen either contract or relax, and the linea alba curves.

Bibliography

E. Walter-Karydi, Die Äginetische Bildhauerschule, Werke und schriftliche Quellen, Alt-Ägina II, 2, 1987, p. 28-29, fig. 25-26.

Technical description

  • Warrior?

    C. 460 BC

    Provenance: Megara?

  • Bronze

    H. 15.9 cm

  • De Clercq collection; Boisgelin gift, 1967 , 1967

    Br 4443

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Bronzes room
    Room 32, temporarily closed to the public, works n
    Display case C2: Classical Greece (5th century BC)

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