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Article contents

A Geometric Greek Horse in the Nicholson Museum

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 May 2015

Jean-Louis Zimmermann*
Affiliation:
University of Geneva

Extract

Although its origins are unknown, this small bronze statuette could well have come from Olympia, judging by its patina and by eight very similar figurines found in this sanctuary. These animals, which are distinguished by an exaggeratedly large head, and by the very noticeable contrast between the substantial body and the feet, which are considerably wider than they are thick, are typical products of the craftsmen of Olympia.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Australasian Society for Classical Studies 1987

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References

1 Inv. no. 64.324. Green patina, with some dark patches and superficial damage. The edges of the hooves are jagged, and there is some residual metal on the inside of the hooves and under the belly. H. 62 mm; L. 90 mm. Sold at Christie’s, April 28, 1964, Cat. of Antiquities (London 1964), no. 56, pi. 6.2; Cambitoglou, A., Nicholson Museum, Classical Collection (Sydney 1979),Google Scholar case 4, panel 2. Presented by the Friends of the Nicholson Museum. I am grateful to Professor Alexander Cambitoglou for allowing me to publish this statuette. Translation by Thérèse Ramseyer.

2 The provenance of this statuette could be confirmed by analysing the alloy, because, in the present state of research, the votive animals of Olympia are the only bronzes of the eometric period which contain gold; Cf. Heilmeyer, W.-D., Olympische Forschungen (OF) 12 (Berlin 1979), 283.Google Scholar The small but constant amount of gold could be explained by the need of an anti-oxidant to stabilise the bronze.

3 Ibid. 139-158, 170-179 and especially 137.

4 Cf. Heilmeyer, W.-D., JdI 84 (1969), 1 ff.Google Scholar

5 This gives the animals of Olympia an unintentionally caricatured and almost grotesque appearance, being modelled in soft wax before the casting, with exaggerated facial features: OF 12 (1979), nos. 824-917.

6 A craftsman certainly modelled the wax of the horse from Olympia Br. 2265 (OF 12 [1979], no. 319, cf. terracotta, OF 7 [1972], no. 97, pl. 17), before giving it to a bronzesmith for casting by the lost-wax process. Such a collaboration is common at Olympia, contra Heilmeyer, OF 12 (1979), 53.

7 Numerous thread-like statuettes testify to this: OF 12 (1979), nos. 668-672 and 680-685. Note also the improvement of faults remaining after casting with hammer and tongs; cf.Heilmeyer, , OF 12 (1979), 49, 144, 178.Google Scholar

8 Cf.Herrmann, H.-V., Bonner Jb. 182 (1982), 613619. A horse and bull cast at the same time: OF 12 (1979), no. 31.Google Scholar

  • a)

    a) Paris, coll. F. Stafford, a standard group of a mare and her foal: D.G. Mitten– Doeringer, S.F., Master Bronzes from the Classical World (Mainz 1968), 36, fig. 15;Google ScholarHeilmeyer, , OF 12 (1979), 106 n.144;Google ScholarHiller, F., JdI 94 (1979), 28 n.25.Google Scholar

  • b)

    b) Formerly on the Zürich market, Vollmoeller, H., Cat. Schweiz. Kunst- u. Antiquitätenmesse (Basel 1976), 33.Google Scholar

10 That is why the attribution of bronzes is more difficult than that of figured pottery; cf.Coldstream, J.N. in Hägg, R., Greek Renaissance of the Eighth Century B.C. (Stockholm 1983), 17, 23.Google Scholar

11 Cf.Mitten, D.G., BMFA 67 (Boston 1965), 14 n.26;Google ScholarHoffmann, H., Ten Centuries that Shaped the West (Houston 1971), 148, under no. 69.Google Scholar

12 Modelling of particular details and ridges covered by the flashes.

13 For the Sydney horse, oblong casting residues along the hooves (cf. here no. 4) and irregularities on the belly (cf. OF 12 [1979], no. 726).

14 For the group described here: chiselling of the horses’ manes (nos. 2-3); hammering of the horses’ tails (no. 6 and OF 12 [1979], no. 726).

15 Probably divided, and placed above the statuette, on the rump and along the mane (cf. here no. 4).

16 Cf. supra note 9. The Laconian influence is most evident in the rectangular stand, decorated with pierced triangles and with a square piece to support the tail; cf.Heilmeyer, W.-D., OF 12 (1979), 122123, figs. 8-9.Google Scholar

17 Cf. ibid. nos. 361 and 566.

18 Ibid. 152, 155; Walter, Contra H. and Vierneisel, K., AM 74 (1959), 17.Google Scholar

19 Cf.Heilmeyer, , OF 12 (1979),nos. 336 and 730.Google Scholar The horse 6211 of the National Museum at Athens could be another work of the artist of the Sydney horse, or more probably the work of a collaborator. This statuette seems slightly later than the others, because of its very effective expression of the lively and unbound quality of the galloping stallion. The rounded modelling is also significant.

20 In particular, the very characteristic shape of the neck and shoulders; cf. Olympia Mus. B 2041 (Maass, M., OF 10 [1978]Google Scholar, no. 207) and the horses from the Acropolis, Athens MN 6539 and 6544 (de Ridder, A., Bronzes de I’Acropole [1896], nos 490-491;Google ScholarWeber, M., AM 89 [1974], 2730).Google Scholar The Attic influence is particularly noticeable on the horse Athens MN 6211: the shape of the mane and back, cf. MN 6543 (de Ridder no. 485); the surface treatment and expression of movement, cf. MN 6552 (de Ridder no. 493); shoulders and thighs, cf. MN 6545 (de Ridder no. 486). Hammered tripods, cf.Weber, M., AM 86 (1971), 2029;Google ScholarTouloupa, E., AM 87 (1972), 5772;Google ScholarRolley, C., Etudes Déliennes 1 (1973), 504506Google Scholar and Fouilles de Delphes 53 (1977), 71-75, 100 n.9; Maass, M., OF 10 (1978), 63104.Google Scholar

21 Cf. supra note 4.

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