Exhibitions/ Art Object

Bronze statuette of an artisan with silver eyes

Late Hellenistic
ca. mid-1st century B.C.
Bronze, silver
15 7/8 × 5 1/8 × 4 1/4 in., 15 lb. (40.3 × 13 × 10.8 cm, 6.8 kg)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1972
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 164
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.
Boucher-Colozier, Stéphanie. 1965. "Un bronze d’époque Alexandrine: Réalisme et Caricature." Fondation Eugène Piot, Monuments at Mémoires, 54: pp. 25–38.

von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1965. "Greek and Roman Art." Notable Acquisitions (Metropolitan Museum of Art), No. 1965/1975: p. 117.

Himmelmann, Nikolaus. 1981. "Realistic Art in Alexandria." Proceedings of the British Academy, 67: p. 205.

Himmelmann, Nikolaus. 1983. Alexandria und der Realismus in der griechischen Kunst. pp. 76–85, pls. 56–58, Tübingen: E. Wasmuth.

Mertens, Joan R. 1985. "Greek Bronzes in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 43(2): no. 41, pp. 11, 60–61.

Kozloff, Arielle and David Gordon Mitten. 1988. The Gods Delight. no. 22, pp. 137–40, Ohio: Cleveland Museum of Art.

Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 244, pp. 210, 452, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Daehner, Jens M. and Dr. Kenneth Lapatin. 2015. Potere e Pathos: Bronzi del Mondo Ellenistico cat. 36, pp. 262–63, Firenze: Giunti.

Daehner, Jens M. and Dr. Kenneth Lapatin. 2015. Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World cat. 36, pp. 262–63, Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum.

Picón, Carlos A. and Seán Hemingway. 2016. Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World no. 71, pp. 161–62, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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