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Greek Bronze Ornament Representing a Seated Goat

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: Greek-Archaic
: Archaic Greek, second half of the 6th Century B.C.
: Bronze
: Lenght: 8.4 cm
: CHF 40000

Ex-European collection, 1960.


Reference 17483

The animal is whole and in an excellent state of preservation; cast using the lost wax process, it is entirely hollow, except for the neck and the head; the surface is partially covered with a black patina. The interior was probably filled with lead (no traces remaining), which served to strengthen the bronze wall while avoiding the formation of cracks, and to better fix the ornament onto its support. The goat is represented lying, its hindquarters under its body (only the right leg is indicated) and its front legs extended forward. The head is turned to the right, towards the viewer, the small tail is erected above the rump.

Although the style is expressive and the identification of the species does not represent any difficulties, the shapes are stylized and somewhat unrealistic (the body and the neck are too small compared to the head): the body is massive with the rounded rump and the right thigh in relief, the neck is cylindrical with a ridge marking the fur of the chest, the short muzzle is rounded at the tip; the horns cover the head like a skullcap. A couple of incisions indicate further anatomical details, like the muscles of the legs, the ribs and, on the head, the eyes, the mouth and the lines in relief on the horns. A semi-circular goatee adorns the muzzle, the two small ears are fitted under the horns.

Such statuettes – beside the goat, the most commonly depicted animal was the lion, represented lying in the same attitude – decorated mainly the large metal containers (kraters, dinoï and the tripods that supported them) that were used as luxury tableware at the symposia (banquets). After their use in everyday life, these vases, reserved for the upper classes of society, could be either dedicated in a sanctuary (many examples come from Olympia), or carried into the tomb with their owners. Such is the case, for instance, with the large dinos decorated with lions statuettes, found in Hochdorf, near Stuttgart, in a “princely” tomb containing very luxurious furniture. This widely known vase had been manufactured in the Greek or the Colonial world, and then exported and sold north of the Alps. From a stylistic point of view, best parallels for this statuette are generally attributed to Peloponnesian workshops and dated to the second half of the 6th century B.C.


Ancient Art, The N. Schimmel Collection, Mainz / Rhine, 1974, n. 21.

ROLLEY C., Les bronzes grecs, Freiburg, 1983, p. 120, fig. 106 (bronze tripod).

SCHMALTZ B., Metallfiguren aus dem Kabirenheiligtum bei Theben, Berlin, 1980, pp. 147-148, pl. 23, n. 409.

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