Parallels for this boy's unusual and unclassical costume, particularly his trousers and ornate pyramidal hat, can be found in works from the eastern borders of the Hellenistic world in the kingdoms of Commagene and Armenia, north of Mesopotamia, beginning in the middle of the first century B.C. This statuette was found in Egypt together with an identical figure that is now in the collection of the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore.
The subject's identity has been much debated and remains a mystery. He may represent Attis, a god of vegetation from Phrygia in central Anatolia. It has also been suggested that the existence of two copies of the same statuette may reflect a double geographical reference—that is, if set up together, the twin figures could be identified as the personifications of Armenia Major and Armenia Minor. However, the images are so similar that more likely they represent the same individual. Most recently, the statuette has been identified as a portrait of Alexander Helios, son of Mark Antony and Cleopatra VII, as prince of Armenia after Mark Antony's conquest in 34 B.C. On the other hand, the mannered style, exotic dress, and moderate scale of this figure likely signal a decorative function for the statuette, possibly as a lamp or incense-burner stand.
Said to have been found east of the Suez Canal or in Alexandria in 1912 (Smith 1917, p. 135)
1912, said to have been found east of Suez Canal or in Alexandria; [in 1920s, with the Durlacher Brothers, New York or London]; by 1944, with the Spanish Art Gallery, London; [until June 1949, with Joseph Brummer, New York]; acquired in June 1949, purchased through the Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York.
Smith, A. H. 1917. "A Bronze Figure of a Youth in Oriental Costume." The Journal of Hellenic Studies, 37: pp. 135–39, pl. 2.
Reinach, Salomon. 1924. Répertoire de la Statuaire Greque et Romaine, Tome V, Vol. 1. no. 4, p. 222, Paris: E. Leroux.
Bienkowski, Piotr. 1928. "Les Celtes dans les art mineurs gréco-romaines, avec des recherchesiconographiques sur quelques autres peuples barbares." Ph.D. Diss. p. 62. Imprimerie de l'Université des Jagellons à Cracovie.
Hill, Dorothy Kent. 1944–1945. "Bracatae Nationes." The Journal of the Walters Art Gallery, 7-8: pp. 80-1, figs. 4-5.
Seltman, Charles T. 1944. Exhibition of Greek Art: 3000 B.C. - A.D. 1938 no. 256, p. 25, Cambridge: Fitzwilliam Museum.
Parke-Bernet. 1949. Classical and Medieval Stone Sculptures, Part III of the Art Collection belonging to the Estate of the late Joseph Brummer. June 8–9, 1949. no. 37, pp. 6-7.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tokyo National Museum, and Kyoto Municipal Museum. 1972. Treasured Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. no. 39, fig. 39, Tokyo: Tokyo National Museum.
Mertens, Joan R. 1985. "Greek Bronzes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 43(2): no. 33, pp. 50–51, 63.