Warrior's head in relief
late 5th century B.C.
Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 034; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 107 (additional published references).
Overall: 8.8 × 6 × 5.5 cm (3 7/16 × 2 3/8 × 2 3/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
This bearded head in with a Corinthian helmet pushed to the top of the brow belongs to a small-scale relief of Pentelic marble. The surfaces of the helmet and the warrior’s cheek are skillfully modeled, and the rendering of details (eye, ear, lips, and beard), though sketchy, is effective when the head is seen in favorable lighting. The right side of the face is roughly worked. The Corinthian variety of helmet covers the head and neck fully, has flexible cheek guards, and typically has two eye openings on either side of a long nose guard. This relief would have originally been painted, and perhaps the eye openings were once added in paint. A drill hole in the top of the helmet was for attachment of a bronze crest. Along the right side of the helmet remains of the background show that the depth relief was about 4.5 cm.
The fragment evidently comes from the frieze of the little Ionic temple of Athena Nike at the entrance of the Acropolis. The temple of Athena Nike is the only temple known to have been erected in Athens in the late fifth century with a frieze representing a historical battle. All the heads on the extant slabs are either broken off or badly mutilated. This head cannot be fitted to any of the preserved figures of the frieze in the British Museum or on the temple itself. The fragment, however, may belong to one of the entirely lost portions of the frieze.
The end of the nose and the chin are missing.
Said to be from Athens; by 1918: Mr. and Mrs. William de Forest Thomson Collection; gift of Mr. and Mrs. William de Forest Thomson to MFA, September 2, 1918
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William de Forest Thomson