A Greek Bronze Helmet of Corinthian Type, Archaic Period, ca. mid 6th century B.C.


Representing a characteristic form of the late seventh and early sixth century B.C, this fine example of Corinthian personal armor is skillfully modeled from a single sheet of bronze which was cast and then hammered. The front represents a stylized face that is bordered along the perimeter with small perforations.  The wide, almond-shaped openings for the eyes, beveled at the edges and contoured at their outer corners, are divided in the center by the nose protector and a long slit that separates the cheek guards, partially revealing the mouth.  For display and further protection, a horsehair crest would have been attached at the top of the domed crown. Away from combat, the helmet could be pushed up to rest above the face; its popularity enduring through the Archaic and Classical periods. In addition to being an essential component of a soldier’s panoply, this nearly “abstract” form makes for an especially impressive work of art and holds strong appeal to our modern taste in sculpture.

Background: The Corinthian helmet was widespread in Greece from the seventh century BC onward. Its origin is ascribed to the workshops in Argos, but it is frequently portrayed on Corinthian vases, and substantial quantities seem to have been made at Corinth. The helmet was part of the equipment of hoplites, heavily armed soldiers whose appearance coincided with the gradual adoption of new bronze arms. It was designed for maximum protection of the warrior. With a long nasal and broad, fixed cheek plates, it covered almost the entire face, leaving only the eyes and mouth visible. It was depicted on more Greek and Roman sculpture than any other helmet type which suggests the Corinthian helmet was romantically associated with glory and the past.

Reference: Antike Helme: Sammlung Lipperheide und andere Bestände des Antikenmuseums Berlin, Mainz/Rhine, 1988, pp. 96-99; pp. 412-415.

Hanson, Victor D. The Western Way of War. New York: Oxford UP, 1990. Print.

Schutz und Zier: Helme aus dem Antikenmuseum Berlin und Waffen anderer Sammlungen, Basel, 1989, p. 21; p. 59, no. 22.

Snodgrass, Anthony M.  Arms and Armour of the Greeks. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1967.

Wright D.R.E et al., The Olympics in Art, An Exhibition of Works of Art related to Olympic Sports, New York, 1980, n. 2.

Dimensions:  Height: 9 1/4 inches (23.6 cm), Width: 8 inches (20.32 cm)

Condition: Attractive mottled green-brown patina, professionally stabilized and losses restored, otherwise complete and in very good condition overall. Custom mounted.

Provenance: J.D. private collection, Canada acquired from Fortuna Fine Arts, New York in the 1990's.