ACROPOLIS MUSEUM, First Floor Kritios Boy And Peplos Kore

Audio File length: 2.32
English / USA Language: English / USA

The Kritios Boy is one of the finest masterpieces of Greek sculpture, and is one of the most important in the museum because it is the first example of the shift from Archaic art to the so-called Severe style: the happy smile characteristic of the faces on works from the Archaic Period has disappeared, replaced by a sense of awareness and greater realism.   

This 86-centimeter-high marble statue was sculpted around 480 BC. The Boy’s short hair, styled around a ring, presumably made of metal, resting on the temples, suggests the statue depicts a god or a hero.

In Ancient Greece, it was common for youths to be portrayed nude, walking forward, as you can see from the position of the legs. These statues were known as kouros, meaning boy. In this room you’ll see others from different periods.

The kouros was always portrayed nude, since there was nothing taboo about male nudity: even athletes competed without any clothing.

You’ll also find statues of girls, called kore, who are always portrayed clothed and immobile: in a certain sense, man represented action, while woman was meant to represent primordial energy and purity.

The most significant statue of this kind is the “Peplos Kore”, named after the typical dress of Greek women of the time. This is a masterpiece of Archaic sculpture: simple, unadorned, with a solemn presence, and some of the vibrant original paint still visible. The lower part harmoniously supports the bust; you will note how the chaste delicacy of the bosom rises above the belt which is then topped with a fresh, youthful face, illuminated by a contented archaic smile and framed by long curls.

The other Kore statues in the room boast a light, pleasant glow and a richness of color; they are beautifully crafted, with sophisticated hairstyles after the fashion of the time, and smiles that are sometimes excessively captivating. Attention is focused exclusively on their outer appearance, enhanced by precious colors. The breasts are often emphasized and adorned by plaits. While the first kore was dedicated to the gods, the others appear to have been crafted for the pleasure of mortals.

 

An interesting fact: the head of the Kritios Boy was found years after the body, and replaced the head that was believed to belong to him.

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