This is the most complete grave monument of its type to have survived from the Archaic period. The Met acquired five fragments between 1911 and 1951. A few pieces are represented here as plaster casts: The fragment with a girl’s head was acquired in 1903 by the Berlin Museums, and the one with the youth’s right forearm is in the National Museum in Athens. The capital and crowning sphinx are casts of the originals displayed in a case nearby for closer viewing of their polychromy.
The youth is shown as an athlete with an aryballos (oil flask, used for cleansing after exercise) suspended by a leather strap from his wrist and a pomegranate—associated with fecundity and death in Greek myths—in his hand. Traces of a painted whirling pattern on the aryballos imitate a painted terracotta vase. The smaller figure, presumably his younger sister, holds a flower.
This lavish monument, which stands over thirteen feet high, must have been erected by one of the wealthiest aristocratic families. Some scholars have restored the name of the youth in the inscription as Megakles, a name associated with the powerful Alkmeonidai clan, who opposed the tyrant Peisistratos during most of the second half of the sixth century b.c. Family tombs were sometimes desecrated and destroyed during that conflict, and this stele may have been among them.
#1012. Marble stele (grave marker) of a youth and a little girl, Part 1
1012. Marble stele (grave marker) of a youth and a little girl, Part 1
1012. Marble stele (grave marker) of a youth and a little girl, Part 2
1444. Marble stele (grave marker) of a youth and a little girl, Part 3
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Infrared-reflected image of aryballos showing traces of painted decoration
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Title:Marble stele (grave marker) of a youth and a little girl
Date:ca. 530 BCE
Dimensions:total H. 166 11/16 in. (423.4cm)
Credit Line:Frederick C. Hewitt Fund, 1911; Rogers Fund, 1921; and Anonymous Gift, 1951
Accession Number:11.185a–c, f, g
Inscription: On the base: "To dear Me[gakles], on his death, his father with his dear mother set (me) up as a monument."
Said to have come from Kataphygi, Attica
Fragmentary shaft (a); base (b); acroterion (c): [Until 1903, Edward Perry Warren, Lewes House, England]; [1903-1909, owned joined by Edward P. Warren and John Marshall, Lewes House, England]; [1909-1911, with John Marshall, Lewes House, England]; acquired in 1911, purchased from John Marshall.
Fragment of youth’s shoulder and arm: [Until 1922, with M.L. Kambanis, Athens and Paris]; acquired in 1922, purchased from M.L. Kambanis.
Fragments of the inscription at base (f, g): [Until 1951, with Theodore Zoumboulakis, Paris]; 1951, purchased from Th. Zoumboulakis by Walter Cummings Baker; acquired in 1951, gift of Walter C. Baker.
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Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1922. "Accessions and Notes: A New Fragment of the Archaic Stele." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 17(3): p. 68.
Chase, George H. 1924. Greek and Roman Sculpture in American Collections. pp. 25–28, figs. 27, 28, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1927. Handbook of the Classical Collection. pp. 232–35, 283, figs. 158, 159, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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Hoving, Thomas. 1970. "Director's Choice." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 28(5): p. 203.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1974. "The Story of the Megakles' Stele in New York." Mélanges Mansel, 1, Arif Müfid Mansel, ed. pp. 1–5, Ankara: Turk Tarih Kurumu Basimeri.
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Estrin, Seth. 2023. "Archaic Sculpture and Archaisms of Gender:
Rethinking the “Brother and Sister Stele”." The Art Bulletin, 105(3): pp. 33–60, figs. 3–4, 9–10, 12–14, 17.
Basso, Elena, Federico Caro, and De Abramitis. 2023. "Polychromy in Ancient Greek Sculpture: New Scientific
Research on an Attic Funerary Stele at the Metropolitan
Museum of Art." Applied Sciences, 15(5): pp. 1–16, figs. 1–10.
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