Bronze grotesque

Period: Hellenistic

Date: 2nd century B.C.–1st century A.D.

Culture: Greek

Medium: Bronze

Dimensions: Overall: 4 x 1 1/4 x 7/8 in. (10.2 x 3.2 x 2.2 cm)

Classification: Bronzes

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1912

Accession Number: 12.229.6


Since its discovery in 1727, this figure's identity has been debated. His disproportionately large head has a prominent nose, canines and whites of the eyes originally inlaid in silver, and hair and a beard once rendered in a matte black metal inlay. The circular area on the back of his head may have been for an attached curl of hair. The close-fitting garment reveals his misshapen body, and he wears sandals. Prevailing scholarly opinion has called the figure a mime and dated it to the first century B.C./A.D. A recent suggestion is that he is a caricature of an Alexandrian pedant, datable in the early second century B.C.