Marble seated harp player

Period: Late Early Cycladic I–Early Cycladic II

Date: 2800–2700 B.C.

Culture: Cycladic

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: H. with harp 11 1/2 in. (29.21 cm)

Classification: Stone

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1947

Accession Number: 47.100.1


This marble figure is one of the earliest known representations of musicians from the Early Cycladic period. It shows a man playing a harp while seated on a chair with an elaborate backrest. The musician tilts back his head and draws his lips forward as he sings. He holds the front of the harp with both hands, resting the weight of the instrument against his right leg and shoulder. His right thumb is raised as he sounds a note and listens with large hollowed ears to the resonating string. The muscles of his arms and his carefully articulated elbow joints, fingers, and ears are modeled with uncommon sensitivity.
The back of this musician's head was once painted, perhaps indicating a close-fitting cap. A belt, which may be understood as part of a penis sheath, encircles his waist. On the top of the harp is an ornament carved in the shape of the head of a waterfowl.