Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Terracotta statuette of an actor

Late Classical
late 5th–early 4th century B.C.
Greek, Attic
H. 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1913
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 161
Fourteen of these figures are said to have been found together in a burial in Attica. They are among the earliest known statuettes of actors and are superbly executed and preserved. Originally they were brightly painted. They document the beginning of standardized characters and masks, indicating the popularity not of a specific figure but of types—the old man, the slave, the courtesan, etc.—that appeared repeatedly in different plays. By the mid-fourth century B.C., Attic examples or local copies were known throughout the Greek world, from Southern Russia to Spain.
Bieber, Margarete. 1939. The History of the Greek and Roman Theater. pp. 85, 91, fig. 130, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1953. Handbook of the Greek Collection. pp. 112, 253, pl. 93f, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Csapo, Eric and William J. Slater. 1994. The Context of Ancient Drama. pp. 70-1, pl. 9, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 181, pp. 160, 438, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Shapiro, H. Alan. 2010. "Middle Comedy Figurines of Actors." The Art of Ancient Greek Theater, Dr. Mary Louise Hart, ed. p. 125, pl. 63, Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum.

Karoglou, Kyriaki. 2016. "The Collection of Greek Terracotta Figurines at The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Les Carnets de l’ACoSt, 14: pp. 3–4, n. 21 [p.8], fig. 7a.

Related Objects

Terracotta statuette of a woman looking into a box mirror

Date: 3rd–2nd century B.C. Medium: Terracotta Accession: 12.229.19 On view in:Gallery 158

Terracotta statuette of a woman

Date: 2nd century B.C. Medium: Terracotta Accession: 30.117 On view in:Gallery 171

Bronze diskos thrower

Date: ca. 480–460 B.C. Medium: Bronze Accession: 07.286.87 On view in:Gallery 153

Bronze man and centaur

Date: mid-8th century B.C. Medium: Bronze Accession: 17.190.2072 On view in:Gallery 151

Bronze statuette of a rider wearing an elephant skin

Date: 3rd century B.C. Medium: Bronze Accession: 55.11.11 On view in:Gallery 163