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Bronze head of Apollo: the 'Chatsworth Head'


Height: 31.600 cm

GR 1958.4-18.1

Room 15: Athens and Lycia

    Bronze head of Apollo: the 'Chatsworth Head'

    Greek, from about 460 BC
    Found near Tamassos, Cyprus (AD 1836)

    This impressive bronze head is from a slightly over life-size statue. Its modern name derives from the fact that for many years, while in the possession of the Dukes of Devonshire, it was preserved at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.

    By the end of the Archaic period (about 600-480 BC) sculptors had mastered the complexities of anatomy. However, they did not immediately pursue complete realism, but an idealised concept of human perfection. This often makes it difficult to determine whether a representation is intended to be a human being or a god, unless the figure holds or wears something to aid identification. At this period it is usually deities who are represented over life-size, and the long curly locks of hair probably indicate that this is the Greek god Apollo.

    The eyes were originally inlaid, perhaps in glass, marble or ivory, held by bronze plates. These are still in place in the eye-sockets, and their projecting edges are shaped to form eye-lashes. The statue itself would have been made in sections, probably with the head, arms and legs cast separately by the indirect lost-wax technique and then joined together. Some of the locks of hair were also made separately and attached.

    D.E.L. Haynes, The technique of Greek Bronze (Mainz am Rhein, 1992)

    C.C. Mattusch, Greek Bronze statuary (Cornell University Press, 1988)

    L. Burn, The British Museum book of G-1, revised edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)


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