Figure of a seated African youth

Greek or Roman
Hellenistic or Imperial Period
1st century B.C. or 1st century A.D.

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 112; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 109 (additional published references); Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 169.


Height (with plinth): 9.3 cm (3 11/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Black steatite

Not On View


The Ancient World



Highly polished statuette in the shape of a squatting black youth that served as a lid for a box, possibly a child’s toy. The youth has distinctive ethnic features, tightly curled hair in rows radiate from the top of his head, a broad nose, and thick lips. The eyes are especially deep with irises incised. His is pouting so that his cheeks are puffed up, his brow is furrowed and his lips are pressed together. His hands are clenched in a fist and held up to his cheek; his chin rests on his knees which are drawn up tightly to his body. There are holes in each ear presumably for earrings of precious material; he wears a belt around his waist, and there are rings around his ankles which could be shackles, or bracelets. Because the toes are so well defined, it appears he is barefoot.

The condition is excellent, with slight discoloration from the earth, in the most deeply carved areas, such as the grooves. The polished surfaces have some pitting.


By 1901: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: Forman Sale Pt. II); 1901: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren

(Although the piece was published in Sculpture in Stone as found at Corinth, this provenance does not appear in Warren's records and seems likely to be incorrect. MBC)

Credit Line

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund