Bronze man and centaur


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 151

This figural group of a man locked in combat with a centaur is attributed to a Laconian Geometric workshop and may come from Olympia. The centaur is represented as a smaller version of his human opponent, but with the addition of the body and hind legs of a horse. The outcome of the fight is indicated by the weapon-head projecting from the centaur’s left side. Recent analysis has revealed that the man’s eyes were originally inlaid with silver, which would have wonderfully contrasted with the centaur’s eyes, inlaid with reddish iron.

Figural groups are rare in Geometric art, and this statuette is among the finest. The lack of attributes and parallels for the scene at this early date makes it difficult to identify the figures with certainty. According to one hypothesis, the scene likely depicts Herakles fighting the centaur Nessos in the middle of the Euenos river, after the monster tried to rape Dejanira, Herakles’ wife. The ornamentation under the base, with a double central zigzag pattern, may well reference the flowing waters of the river.

Decorated base-plates—with perforated and relief geometric patterns—are typical of such statuettes during the later part of the eighth century BCE. This feature served as a stand but might also have been used as some kind of early stamp or seal.

#1005. Bronze man and centaur



  1. 1005. Bronze man and centaur
  2. 1441. Bronze man and centaur
Bronze man and centaur, Bronze, Greek

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