Colorful inlays once filled the eyes of this bronze man and centaur locked in combat. Scientific analysis has revealed that the man’s eyes were made of silver and the centaur’s, still intact, of dark iron or iron-oxide minerals. The contrast between the two would have been striking. The technique of inlaying various materials to enhance metal sculpture appears very early in Greek art, with special attention given to the eyes.
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X-radiograph showing hollows for inlays in the eyes
Back scattered electron image of the left side of the centaur’s face (left) and the composite X-ray map showing the distribution of the elements copper (red), tin (orange), and iron (green) in the same area. Iron is concentrated in centaur’s inlayed eye.
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Title:Bronze man and centaur
Date:mid-8th century BCE
Dimensions:H. 4 3/8 in. (11.10 cm)
Credit Line:Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Said to be from Olympia (Mertens 1985, p. 19).
[Until 1906, art market, Paris]; 1906-1913, collection of J. Pierpont Morgan, New York; 1913-1917, estate of J.P. Morgan; acquired in December 1917, gift of J.P. Morgan.
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Richter, Gisela M. A. 1917. Handbook of the Classical Collection. p. 44, fig. 23, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1927. Handbook of the Classical Collection. pp. 51–52, fig. 29, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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