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A man stands behind a horned animal, touching its back and head.

A man and a horned animal, both made from curved cylinders. The man stands behind the animal and leans forward, his right hand on the animals back and his left arm disappearing behind the animals head. His face and ears are suggested by simple carving. The animal is standing facing the right, with a long head, open mouth, thick downturned horns, trunk-like legs, and a short thick tail. The middle of its body is connected to the base by an additional column. Both figures are made of green and brown material which looks polished.

Gallery Text

Bronze is an alloy of copper and tin that has been used for thousands of years to make objects as diverse as sculpture and figurines, weapons and armor, and jewelry and tableware. The addition of tin and sometimes lead made the alloy more versatile and lowered its melting point; another common copper alloy is brass (copper and zinc), which was in widespread use in the Roman period. Although other materials, like stone, glass, and terracotta, were available, copper alloy items were valued for their golden sheen, versatility, and durability. The material lent prestige and beauty to objects like these statuettes, most of which would have been dedicated to the gods. Modern bronzes are often artificially patinated, like the Rodin sculpture in this colonnade. While ancient bronzes were sometimes gilded or deliberately darkened, the unaltered surfaces naturally acquired a red, green, or brown patina over time.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Man Leading a Ram by the Horn
Work Type
statuette, sculpture
late 8th-early 7th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Geometric period to Orientalizing
Persistent Link


Level 3, Room 3400, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Ancient Greece in Black and Orange
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Physical Descriptions

Bronze, traces of iron rod in base
Cast, lost-wax process
overall: 6.6 x 5.4 x 3.4 cm (2 5/8 x 2 1/8 x 1 5/16 in.)
base: 3 x 3 cm (1 3/16 x 1 3/16 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Bronze:
Cu, 90.11; Sn, 8.04; Pb, 0.76; Zn, 0.04; Fe, 0.03; Ni, 0.14; Ag, 0.11; Sb, 0.41; As, 0.35; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, 0.018; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, less than 0.001
J. Riederer

Technical Observations: The patina is dark green with spots of red. The mechanical cleaning of the surface was done with reasonable care. Some areas of red cuprite have been exposed. Corrosion pits are present in some areas; raised corrosion products and burial accretions remain in others. The iron post under the ram is mostly or completely mineralized.

The group is a solid cast. The complex shape and freely formed components indicate direct work in a unique wax model. The eyes were formed with a small round punch in the metal, and the man’s mouth appears to have been cut in the metal abrasively. The iron post running vertically between the bottom of the ram and the top of the base also has iron residues below the base and at the ram’s back. The post must have run completely through these elements and perhaps beyond them. It is not needed for the casting process, and its purpose is not clear.

Henry Lie (submitted 2012)


Recorded Ownership History
Robert E. Hecht, Jr., Paris, France, (by 1965), sold; [through Sotheby's, London, November 27, 1967, lot 180;] to Herbert A. Cahn, Basel, Switzerland, (1967-1969), sold; [through Münzen und Medaillen, Basel, November 1969], sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1970.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, David M. Robinson Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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A small sturdy ram appears to resist the efforts of a determined nude man standing beside him to lead or guide him forward, perhaps to sacrifice. The man's expressive, large hands convey his effort to make the animal move. Groups such as this are very rare in Geometric bronze sculpture and foreshadow the production of larger and more complicated sculptural compositions in bronze and stone during centuries to come. The presence of an iron pin piercing the plinth and extending into the ram's underside suggests that this charming group may originally have been attached to the top of a staff or sceptre. While the identity of the man remains uncertain, it is tempting to think of him as Hermes, the messenger god who sponsored trade and cared for flocks.

David Gordon Mitten

Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
The elastically modeled, youthful male figure grasps the left horn of the ram with his three-fingered left hand. The attenuated, perpendicular column of the young man’s neck supports his head, which is round and smooth. His nose and ears are shallowly modeled, and his eyes are impressed dots. However, his slit-like mouth is open and animated, and his chin, although subtly rendered, is clearly defined. His right hand, with all the fingers fully articulated, pulls against the right flank of the ram, steadying and straightening it forward. His effort in controlling the animal is expressed in the torsion of his shoulders, back, and hips, and by the uneven distribution of his weight; he leans forward on the bent left leg, with the straight right leg planted behind him. Both feet are planted flat on the squarish base, which is pierced by a rusted iron rod that extends upward into the ram’s belly. This is probably a remnant of the dowel that fastened the group to a larger object, perhaps a staff. The ram is thick and bulky, evoking its heavy wool and musculature, while its long, forward-curving horns enhance an impression of its strength. Its elongated, triangular face features a high nasal ridge extending from between the horns to the end of the muzzle. The ram’s mouth is open. The eyes and nostrils are indicated by precisely impressed or punched pits. The squat, stubby legs taper abruptly into the base that it shares with its human attendant.

It is instructive to compare this composition to three similar bronze figurine groups of a man with a ram from the Geometric period sanctuary of Delphi (1). A fourth bronze group of a man with a ram, from the Malophoros Sanctuary at Selinus, is in the Museo Nazionale Palermo (2).


1. For the man-with-ram groups at Delphi, see C. Rolley, Monuments figurés: Les statuettes de bronze, Fouilles de Delphes 5 (Paris, 1969) 53-55, nos. 42-44, fig. 16, pl. 12 (no. 44 is the guide for the reins of a chariot).

2. For the bronze group from Selinus in Palermo, see C. A. Di Stefano, Bronzetti figurati del Museo Nazionale di Palermo (Rome, 1975) 59-60, no. 99 (inv. no. 8241 [B90]), pl. 24.

Tamsey Andrews and David G. Mitten

Publication History

  • Fogg Art Museum Acquisitions, 1969-1970, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1971), p. 171 (ill.), 195.
  • G. Kenneth Sams, ed., Small Sculptures in Bronze from the Classical World: An Exhibit in Honor of Emeline Hill Richardson, exh. cat., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC, 1976), no. 5.
  • David Gordon Mitten, "Man and Ram: A Bronze Group of Geometric Style in the Fogg Art Museum", Journal of the Walters Art Gallery (1977), Vol. 36, 31-36.
  • Kristin A. Mortimer and William G. Klingelhofer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press (Cambridge and New York, 1986), p. 111, no. 123, ill.
  • Susan Langdon, ed., From Pasture to Polis: Art in the Age of Homer, exh. cat., University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO, 1993), p. 148-50, no. 51.

Exhibition History

  • Small Sculptures in Bronze from the Classical World: An Exhibit in Honor of Emeline Hill Richardson, William Hayes Ackland Memorial Art Center, 03/07/1976 - 04/18/1976
  • From Pasture to Polis: Art in the Age of Homer, Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Missouri, Columbia, 10/09/1993 - 12/05/1993
  • Monsters, Gods and Mortals: Artists Interpret the Odyssey Across 25 Centuries, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 08/25/1998 - 10/18/1998
  • 32Q: 3400 Greek, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/03/2023 - 01/01/2050
  • 32Q: 3200 West Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 10/03/2023

Subjects and Contexts

  • Ancient Bronzes
  • Google Art Project

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at