A Cypriot Limestone Head of a Youth, Archaic Period, 600-500 B.C.

This small carved limestone male head originally belonged to a figural sculpture.  The conical cap, identifying him as an individual of high rank, appears at the end of the eighth century B.C. in the Levant and had reached Cyprus by the mid-seventh century B.C. It is characterized by a striated protuberance at the top and flaps at the sides that could be let down or fastened up by the ties ending in tassels.  Depicted with relief carved almond-shaped eyes under arching eyebrows, and pronounced ears.

Background:  With no marble on Cyprus, the Cypriot artist was confined to soft limestone, abundant in the central and southeastern parts of the island. So it is not surprising that the earliest sculpture appeared in the Golgoi area and gradually spread to other centers, such as Idalion, Arsos, and Kition, in the same limestone-rich region.

By the beginning of the sixth century B.C., the developing art of stone sculpture reached its zenith.  During this period, the Phoenicians were actively present on the island, and they introduced elements of Egyptian art. This influence can be seen in a series of large and small male votaries, though local taste forms the iconographic basis of many Cypriot votaries and priests. A general characteristic of the Cypriot sculpture of this era was polychrome decoration, a feature also present in Greek sculpture. Black, red, and other colors are preserved on many examples in the MMA's Cesnola Collection, which possesses some of the finest examples of Cypriot sculpture from the sixth and fifth centuries B.C.

Bibliography:  Karageorghis, Vassos, in collaboration with Joan R. Mertens and Marice E. Rose (2000) Ancient Art from Cyprus: The Cesnola Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

Condition:  A few faded traces of red surface paint remaining. Scattered root marks on the surface. Ancient loss to the right tip of his nose and a minor flake on the base edge professionally repaired.  Museum quality custom base.

Dimensions: Height:  3-5/8 inches 

Provenance: NYC collection, acquired at Gorny & Mosch, Munich, 2005, ex. private Austrian collection, acquired in the 1930s; Prof. Goldeck, Germany.

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