Grave stele of a mounted warrior
Late Archaic Period
about 490–480 B.C.
Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 018; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 106 (additional published references).
Height x width: 81 x 81.5 cm (31 7/8 x 32 1/16 x 8 in.) 500 LBS DV
Medium or Technique
Marble from Mt. Pentelikon near Athens
Horse and rider are carved in high relief on an uneven background which curves forward at the top, to a crowning molding. The top, a section at the lower front of the molding, and the right edge of the stele are finished smooth. There appears to have been a pattern, perhaps a form of guilloche, carved on the upper front of the molding.
The horse paces slowly, with left fore and hind legs advanced. The front of his body is turned slightly; his neck, drawn back and strongly arched, is bent farther toward the viewer; and his head was shown almost in direct front view, lifted high and projected boldly out of the normal front plane of the slab. This is proved by traces of the reins, which exept for the end below the knight’s left hand were made of bronze. The end of the right rein fitted into a hole in the top of this hand and ran obliquely upward in a groove carved in the horse’s mane, while the left rein was fastened into a hole in the background to the left of the jaw. The warrior’s right hand rested on his hip and possibly held a bronze spear.
The bearded rider wears an Attic helmet with high crest and long plume, a short chiton, a chlamys, greaves, and a sword handing in its scabbard at his left side. The chiton has very short sleeves and is pulled up from under the belt into an overfold. The chlamys is fastened over the right shoulder, one end floating out behind with its edge in zigzag folds, the other falling over the rider’s thigh. The whole garment is arranged in conventional series of carved and incised Archaic folds.
The relief is incomplete at the left side and at the bottom. The portion preserved has been broken in two horizontally across the horse’s head and the rider’s waist; the joint is now filled in with plaster. Aside from the breaks and the major damages visible, there are minor dents, and the surfaces are in a very fresh condition. No remains of color are discernible, and both the original carving and the major breaks are now overlaid with grayish spots or areas and a light yellow patina.
Harvard Lab No. HI233: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.54 / delta18O -7.68, Attribution - Pentelikon, Justification - Fine grained marble.
By date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: From just outside Thebes about twenty minutes walk on the road to the Cabirion in the fold of the hill to your left); 1899: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 32,500.00 (this is the total price for MFA 99.338-99.542)
Henry Lillie Pierce Fund