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Reproduction of the "Priest-King" from Knossos

After a restoration by Emile Gilliéron père, ca. 1906-7

Late Minoan IB
ca. 1525–1450 B.C.
painted plaster
Other: 88 1/4 x 50 1/4 x 6 in. (224.2 x 127.6 x 15.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1907
Accession Number:
  • Description

    For Sir Arthur Evans, the "Priest-King" represented a portrayal of one of the priestly rulers of Knossos; to this day, it ranks among the most emblematic images of Minoan Crete. The Metropolitan acquired copies of the relief's six main fragments and following a photograph of the elder Gillieron's 1905 restoration of the fresco, assembled them into the work seen here. The Museum's reconstruction differs slightly from Gillieron's in that it provides only a minimum of detail of the unpreserved parts not preserved, rendering it unique.

    Several more restorations were made by the Gillierons upon discovery of additional fragments. A copy of the final version was installed where Evans believed the relief was originally located and he featured it as the frontispiece of the second volume of his monumental publication of the excavations, The Palace of Minos at Knossos.

    Since the remains are so fragmentary, the original composition cannot be determined with certainty, and scholars have long debated the validity of the Gillieron restorations, reconstructing from the same fragments as many as three different figures, including a sphinx wearing the plumed crown. Nevertheless this restoration remains a clever solution that combines the existing pieces into a single figure.

    The original is in the Archaeological Museum of Herakleion, Crete.

  • Provenance

    Original: Excavated 1901 in the North-South Corridor, Knossos.