Marble head of Athena: The so-called Athena Medici


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 153

The head is from a Roman copy of an over-life-size statue of the goddess Athena, which has long been attributed to Pheidias, the most famous Greek artist of the fifth century b.c. Her eyes were once inset with colored stones. The head retains part of the frontlet and neck guard of an Attic helmet that was originally made of gilded wood. The combination of materials—with drapery and attributes such as the helmet worked in wood and gilded, and flesh parts carved in marble—is known as the acrolithic technique. It imitated the appearance of immensely valuable gold and ivory (chryselephantine) statues, such as the great Athena Parthenos that stood inside the Parthenon in Athens, and the colossal seated statue of Zeus at Olympia.

Marble head of Athena: The so-called Athena Medici, Marble, Roman

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