Statue of the Kritios Boy
Plaster cast, Ministry of Culture Casts and Reproductions, Greece, 1988
Dimensions: H 1.31m
Acc #: CC15, James Logie Memorial Collection
Copy of a marble statue of a nude youth, attributed to Kritios, c. 485 BC
Found at the Acropolis, Athens, 1865
Acropolis Museum, Athens, #: 698
The Kritios boy is well known for being one of the earliest statues of the Classical period. His contrapposto stance is indicative of the aims of Classical sculptors, exemplifying the natural volumes of the human body.
The Kritios boy is under life-sized. The softer, more rounded and volumetric treatment of the body contrasts with the sharper angular lines of the Archaic period. The athletic nude male was a symbol for victory and civic commitment, and was a recurrent image throughout Greek art.
The boy’s cap of curls is a feature that is characteristic of sulpture in the Classical period, as it is associated with youth and athleticism, and is often depicted in imagery of Apollo. This cast of the Kritios boy has empty eye sockets, but the original sculpture would have had glass eyes to give the statue a sense of life. This feature was also common to sculpture in the Classical period.
The name "Kritios boy" comes from the 19th-century attribution of the sculpture to the artist Kritios, best known for his work on the Tyrannicide group of sculptures.
The Kritios boy was found in two parts at the Acropolis in Athens in 1865 and 1888. The sculpture was probably a dedicatory statue, and it is possible that he stood on an Ionic column found in the same vicinity. The column is inscribed with two lines of hexameter verse referring to a dedication to Athena by Kallias, son of Didymaios, the victor in a boy's race at the Panathenaic games. It has also been argued that the Kritios boy represents the hero Theseus.
The original Kritios boy is missing his lower arms and right leg. Most replicas of the Kritios boy are displayed as the original now is, mounted onto a base supported by rods. The Logie cast of the Kritios boy suffered damage during the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010, and has since been fully conserved. Repairs are evident on his right thigh and knee.
A short selection of references for this work includes:
- Bieber, Margarete. 1977. Ancient Copies: Contributions to the History of Greek and Roman Art. New York: University Press
- Boardman, John. 1985. Greek Sculpture: The Classical Period. London: Thames and Hudson
- Frederiksen, Rune and R.R.R. Smith. 2011. The Cast Gallery of the Ashmolean Museum: Catalogue of plaster casts of Greek and Roman Sculpture. Oxford: University Press
- Lullies, Reinhard and Max Hirmer. 1957. Greek Sculpture. London: Thames and Hudson
- Payne, Humfry, and Gerard Mackworth-Young 1950. Archaic Marble Sculpture from the Acropolis. London: Cresset Press
- Ridgway, Brunile Sismondo. 1970. The Severe Style in Greek Sculpture. New Jersey: Princeton University Press
- Spivey, Nigel. 1996. Understanding Greek Sculpture: Ancient Meanings, Modern Readings. London: Thames and Hudson