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A grave stele from the Parthenon age

UnknownCa. 440–430 BC

Altes Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Altes Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

On the preserved upper half of this stele, the deceased appears as a bearded man in a mantle. The garment bunches at his armpit as if he has a walking staff tucked under his arm. He raises his partially open hand to his chin. The mantle and beard distinguish the man from the youths who are far more often depicted on stelai (in commemoration of their premature deaths from sickness or war). This type of scene on a stele is not new: seated bearded men and bearded men with knobby staffs and dogs appear on stelai even before 500 BC. This narrow shape of stele allowed enough space for only one or two figures to be depicted; but in the first half of the fifth century BC, a wider shape came into use. The more spacious picture field could easily contain two figures, be they youths or men, alongside a third (e.g., a naked servant boy).
Unlike the Giustiniani Stele, here the palmette and volutes were worked separately. A comparison between the two reveals that the form and style of this crowning element are closely related. Both were made in a Parian workshop, or at least by a Parian artist, in the 430s BC. A stele fragment with just such a man leaning on a staff was found in Paros, and stylistically can be linked directly to these other two examples. In the Berlin piece, the man’s easy pose, elaborately draped mantle, and elegant three-quarters view are reminders that this piece shares its style and period with the famous Parthenon frieze in Athens.

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Details

  • Title: A grave stele from the Parthenon age
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Ca. 440–430 BC
  • Location: From Karystos, on Euboia
  • Physical Dimensions: w49 x h149 cm
  • Type: Stele
  • Medium: Parian marble
  • Object acquired: Acquired from the Sabouroff Collection in 1884
  • Inv.-No.: Sk 736
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-814319
  • External link: Altes Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Verlag Philipp von Zabern / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Kun. || Photo: © b p k - || Photo Agency / Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Ingrid Geske-Heiden
  • Collection: Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

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