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Sunday, November 29, 2015

WARRIOR IN A CORINTHIAN HELMET -- Ancient Roman statuary

Speranza.

The Warrior in a Corinthian Helmet is an ancient Roman statue -- late Republican or early Imperial, 40 BC -- AD 30. Collezione di J. Pierpont Morgan.

The bearded, nude figure wears his helmet pushed back on his mane of hair, either in anticipation or or in a sequel to combat.

The pose establishes fluid shifts of axis, but his limbs are arranged in a contrast of mobility and stasis that is in the Polyclitan tradition.

The warrior is supported on his right leg, his left is set back slightly and the heel is raised in movemet. His right arm points downward with a slight flex, while the left is bent sharply.

The warrior's head is turned from the static to the mobile side, which creates a sense of smooth, continuous, flow.

Transitions in the simply but intelligently rendered anatomy are soft and gentle, and contours have a curvilinear elasticity.

The expression is altered by the loss of inlays in the right eye and the lips.

A faint circular line on the right pectoral, nearly concealed by the modern patination, suggests that the nipples were originally inlaid with copper.

Curls of the beard are rendered with circular indentations.

It has been hypothesised that the figure copies a lost statue of PERICLE by KIRESILA.

It has been observed that the head is however not a portrait, but that a military commander could welll have been presented in these generic terms.

The stance is Polyclitaa, a suggestion that might lead ato a slightly later date and different identification altogether!

The pose is associated particularly with statues ascribed to the first generation of pupils of POLYCLITUS: the Pan and the Dresden Statue.

The modelling of the musculature also has a reticent quality that differs from earliesr robustness.

Only the angle of the head, turned up rather than down, differs fom the these post-Polyclitan figures, whose prototypes were apparently created in the span 420-405 B. C.

Other Roman bronze statues of generals similar to this one have been connected with the monument to LISANDRO and a multitude of other Spartan and allied commanders set up at Delphi in 405-401 BC after the end of the Pelonnesian War.

This piece has at least as good a claim as any of them to reflect that project -- caried out largely by pupils of POLYCLITUS.

The suave elegance of the composition does, indeed, have a sophisticated flavour, but such influenced have often noted in the work of the Argive school in their own version of the Rich Style of around 400 B. C.

The figure probably supported a shield on its left arm and held a spear with its right hand, but no clear-cut evidence of such attachments is visible on the pitted and ecrusted surface.

The arms of most bronzes of helmeted warriors, from the monumental fifht-cntury warriors of RIACE to Roman statuettes, are held in just this position, presumably in order to bear weapons.

The statuette has a refreshing originality in its soft but anatomically sure modlling and could be pre-Imperial.

It lacks the elaborate academic definition of high quality Imperial work, like the PARMYTHIA statuettes or the LEVY athlete.

A few details, however, make it clear that the execution is post-Classical.

The upturned head gives the figure an anachronistic Lysippan or Hellenistic expression, and the indnted centres of the curls of the beard reflect an illusionistic approach more at home in Roman imperial times.

The technique appears, for example, in the bust from the Villa of the Papyri at Herculaneum.

The broad surfaces and gentle simplicity of the anatomy, however, strongly recall the three classicistic statuettes from the Anticythera shipwreck of 75-50 B. C.

The treatment if even gentler and less sharply defined here.

They, too, make use of inlays in eyes, lips, and nipples.

The relationship is close enough to suggest a workshop connection.

Although the workshop that produced the figure must have come from Greece, in all likelihood it must have been transferred to Rome.

The piece is a failed cast filled with bubles, and surely would not have been deemed fir to export, even thout it was evidentaly passable in a local market.

The statue was found in the TEVERRE near ROMA.


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