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The Rampin Rider” is one of the most famous statues in the Acropolis Museum because it is the only existing example of an equestrian statue from the Greek Archaic Period, dating to 550 BC. It depicts a young man on horseback, completely nude, with his face lit up by a smile. It is thought he may have been the winner of a horse race, because he is wearing a wreath of celery that was the mark of victory in such events. If you look carefully, you’ll see that the statue still has traces of red and black paint.

Observe the contrast between the rigid, schematic appearance of the torso and the sophisticated execution of the hair and the beard framing the face, lit up by what is known as the “archaic smile”, one of the simpler ways to sculpt the mouth.

An interesting fact: the beautiful head of the Rampin Rider is a plaster cast. The real head was found in 1877 and purchased by the French diplomat Rampin (hence the name given to the statue), who donated it to the Louvre in Paris, where you can still see it today, together with a cast of the rider’s torso and the horse. The rest of the work, recovered later, remained in Athens.

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