This statuette is remarkable for its synthesis of Hellenistic immediacy and Classical composure. The figure can be identified as an artisan by his dress and muscular build. Particularly telling is the pair of wax tablets tucked in his belt—the equivalent of a note pad—on which he would have written or drawn with a pointed stylus. The portrait is imbued with great psychological power and may represent a famous, even mythological, figure. For example, he may portray the Homeric hero Epeios, who with Athena's help carved the Trojan horse. It has also been proposed that he is the legendary master craftsman Daidalos, who built the labyrinth at Knossos, or even the famous fifth century B.C. Athenian sculptor Phidias, creator of the chryselephantine cult statue of Zeus at Olympia and master craftsman of the sculptures of the Parthenon on the Athenian Akropolis.
Said to be from North Africa, possibly Cherchell, Algeria
Before 1953, said to have been found in the sea off the North African coast, probably at Cherchell, Algeria; said to have been given as a present to J. Bousquet, Rodez (Aveyron), France; 1953, given as a present to Louis Édouard Balsan, Rodez (Aveyron), France; 1953-72, collection of Louis E. Balsan, Rodez (Aveyron), France; acquired in 1972, purchased from Louis E. Balsan.
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