Lying on his back with his lifeless limbs spread wide, this small bronze figure of a youth shows the release of death. A mark on the youth's shoulder, as well as his general posture, indicates that he was originally part of a scene that included either a supporting figure or, more likely, an uneven rocky landscape. Cast in solid bronze, this small statue has lost the inlaid reddish copper nipples that would have contrasted with the golden bronze. The curls around the youth's face were also inlaid with copper, the only known example of this detail. On the basis of its style and proportions, the statuette probably can be attributed to an Athenian workshop.
The dead youth may have been one of the children of Niobe, a mortal woman who was punished by the gods Apollo and Artemis, the children of the goddess Leto. Niobe offended the goddess by bragging that she had fourteen children, whereas Leto had only two. Leto punished Niobe by sending her children to kill all of Niobe's sons and daughters. Niobe was turned into a weeping stone.