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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Standing nude, male youth
Work Type
sculpture, statuette
425 BCE-375 BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Laurion (Attica)
Classical period
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

23.7 h x 7.5 cm w (9 5/16 x 2 15/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • label:
    back, bottom center, red paint: K34
  • inscription: back, bottom center, black paint/ink: Λαυριου [Laurion]

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Miss Bettina J. Kahnweiler
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Standing male youth, nude, with a cloak draped over his shoulders and arms, covering his right arm completely and leaving his left forearm uncovered.

The figure stands on a rectangular base. He stands, posed in a slight S-curve: his right hip juts slightly forward, to the figure’s right side. The left leg is slightly forward, with a slight bend at knee. The torso responds to this pose, with right pectoral slightly forward.The figure’s left shoulder is exaggerated in size and the left arm hangs down his side, with his left hand resting on an indistinct vertical feature. His right arm hangs straight down. The musculature of torso is softly modeled: pectorals are visible, as is a slight swell of lower abdomen; genitals are indistinct.

The head has been (re)attached in the middle of the neck and may not be original to this object. The facial features are not very distinct; grey and black paint blot the eyes. Clean-shaven, though a darker coloration (pigment? discoloration?) is present across cheek to chin. Curls frame the face, with the hair forming a helmet like-shape; the hair has a dark red coloring. He wears a pointed, conical hat (pilos), painted red. The back of head is flat.

Hollow. Mold-made. Back not modeled. Rectangular vent hole.

Hard reddish clay, well-levigated. Traces of pink pigment; traces of white slip in grooved/recessed areas. Reddish patch on right shoulder and upper back: kiln blush?

Other mends are visible: mended breaks run from upper third of vent down behind left arm, then down left leg; another mended break runs above feet/above plinth (all around); a loss (infilled?) at front of plinth.
This object is one of many similar terracotta figurines that depict a naked male youth, standing in a relaxed “S-curve” pose, with a cloak draped over his shoulders. Art historians describe this stance as an “S-curve”: the bend of a knee and the jutting of the opposite one hip to the side cause the torso and shoulders to shift in response, taking the spine into a S-shaped curve. This is a relaxed pose that implies pliability. These young men are depicted in ways that emphasize their youth (underdeveloped muscles, no mature facial and pubic hair) and speak to contemporary ideas about desirability. They wear a variety of hairstyles, including ornate curls topped by headdresses (wreaths?), and they often hold objects (most frequently a rooster).

They were made in Greek communities (especially in Boiotia, Athens, and Corinth) from the fifth century through the third century BCE. These small statues were versatile objects: ancient Greeks buried them in graves with the deceased, dedicated them to gods at sanctuaries, and likely kept them in their households as well.

For more information on these terracotta depictions of male youths, see: A. Rosenberg. 2015. The soft style: Youth and nudity in classical Greece. Ph.D. diss., The University of Chicago; A. Rosenberg-Dimitracopoulou. 2019. “The Soft Youth in Boeotian Coroplasty.” In Hellenistic and Roman terracottas, edited by G. Papantoniou, D. Michaēlidēs and M. Dikomitou-Eliadou. Monumenta Graeca et Romana 23. Leiden: Brill.

Related Works

Verification Level

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