Length: 4.000 inches
Room 13: Greece 1050-520 BC
Bronze reclining banqueter
Greek, about 530-500 BC
Probably made at Sparta but said to have been found in the Sanctuary of Zeus at Dodona, Epirus, Greece
A relaxed-looking banqueter enjoying the feast
This smiling banqueter is shown reclining on a couch in a typical way, his left hand holding a shallow dish, his right resting casually on his raised right knee. The details of his hair and beard are attractively rendered, and his smile, though a characteristic feature of Archaic Greek sculpture, adds to his relaxed appearance.
We know that large-scale bronzes were produced in the sixth century BC, but few have survived the common fate in antiquity of being melted down for the metal to be re-used. The qualities of small pieces such as this perhaps show us what has been lost. The piece is beautifully worked, with flowing lines, intricate detail and a wonderfully smooth finish.
Many of the most accomplished bronzes to have survived are associated with Sparta, which traditionally had a reputation for skilful bronze-casting. Both this piece and a bronze of a running girl found at Prizren, Serbia are thought to be Spartan products.
Small bronzes are frequently found in tombs, but were also dedicated in sanctuaries. This example is supposed to have come from the Sanctuary of Zeus at Dodona in north-western Greece, the site of an oracle in antiquity.
L. Burn, The British Museum book of Gre (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)