- Identification and Creation
- Object Number
- Nude Male Votive Statuette
- Work Type
- statuette, sculpture
- late 5th-2nd century BCE
- Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Hispania
- Iron Age
- Persistent Link
- Physical Descriptions
- Leaded bronze
- Cast, lost-wax process
- 8 cm (3 1/8 in.)
- Technical Details
Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Leaded Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin, lead
Other Elements: iron, nickel, silver, antimony
K. Eremin, January 2014
Technical Observations: The patina is green with brown accretions. The surface is fairly well preserved. The figure is a solid cast, probably from a model made by working directly in wax. Most or all of the shapes and surface detail were made in the wax model.
Henry Lie (submitted 2011)
- National Archaeological Museum of Spain, (by 1933), by exchange; to the Fogg Art Museum.
Excavated at the sanctuary site of Collado de los Jardines, Jaén, in the early 1900s.
Note: In exchange for a Sepulchral slab from the Cemetery at Sahagun, Leon, Spain.
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of The Republic of Spain through the Museo Arqueologico Nacional and Professor Arthur Kingsley Porter
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This nude, ithyphallic male statuette was possibly a votive related to fertility (1). His bald, egg-shaped head is frontal and is turned slightly upward. His facial features are very simple and large, especially his prominent triangular beak-like nose and almond-shaped eyes within large ovoid depressions. His jaw and chin are round and jutting, and his neck is thick and somewhat flattened. His shoulders are rounded and stick out from the torso just under the neck. The torso and arms are flattened, unnaturally proportioned, and show no indication of musculature. The figure holds his arms to his sides with his palms facing outward by his hips. There is a slight indication of fingers on the front only. There is no differentiation between upper arms and forearms, and the fingers are especially flat. His legs are slightly splayed; as with the arms, there is no differentiation between upper and lower legs, although the legs are more rounded than the torso and arms. His feet are flat, with no indication of ankles or toes. The back of the figure is featureless and mostly flat, except for the back of the head and the back of the legs, which are slightly rounded.
Thousands of small, anthropomorphic copper alloy statuettes and anatomical votives have been recovered from remote sanctuary sites in south-central Spain, particularly Collado de los Jardines and Castellar de Santisteban, but it is not certain to which god or gods they were dedicated (2). Many of the statuettes depict individuals, some of whom are represented in poses of prayer or offering (3). Some are very abstract and schematically rendered, while others wear identifiable contemporary clothing (4). In spite of the similarity of the votives, there is nothing to indicate that the intention behind each offering was the same. This example is most likely from the cave sanctuary of Collado de los Jardines near Santa Elena, Jaén. It was given to Harvard in 1933 by the Republic of Spain in exchange for the cover of the eleventh-century sarcophagus of Alfonso Ansúrez from Sahagún, León, which was then in the collection of the Fogg Art Museum (5).
1. Compare L. Prados Torreira, Exvotos ibericos de bronce del Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1992) 172-73, 176, and 287, nos. 12-14, 21, 53, and 1392; compare also R. Lantier, Bronzes votifs ibériques (Paris, 1935) nos. 99 and 113-16, pls. 10-11.
2. See F. Álvarez-Ossorio, Bronces ibéricos o hispánicos del Museo Arqueológico Nacional (Madrid, 1935) 20-27; id., Catálogo de los exvotos de bronce ibéricos (Madrid, 1941); L. Prados Torreira, “Los exvotos anatomicos del santuario iberico de Collado de los Jardines (Sta. Elena, Jaén),” Trabajos de prehistoria 48 (1991): 313-32; ead. 1992 (supra 1); ead., “Los santuarios ibéricos: Apuntes para el desarrollo de una arqueología del culto,” Trabajos de prehistoria 51.1 (1994): 127-40; and G. Nicolini et al., El santuario ibérico de Castellar, Jaén: Intervenciones arqueológicas 1966-1991 (Seville, 2004) 160-64.
3. For discussions of the statuettes’ poses and gestures, see G. Nicolini, “Gestes et attitudes cultuels des figurines de bronze ibériques,” Mélanges de la Casa de Velázquez 4 (1968): 27-50; and C. Rueda Galán, “La mujer sacralizada: La presencia de las mujeres en los santuarios (lectura desde los exvotos de bronce iberos),” Complutum 18 (2007): 227-35.
4. See, for example, 1933.134.
5. See “Collections and Critiques,” The Harvard Crimson, Dec. 12, 1935; and Á. Franco, “Arte medieval leonés fuera de España,” in La dispersión de objetos de arte fuera de España en los siglos XIX y XX, eds. F. Pérez Mulet and I. Socias Batet (Barcelona, 2011) 93-132, esp. 113-16.
Lisa M. Anderson
- Publication History
"Collections and Critiques", The Harvard Crimson, Dec. 12, 1935
Francisco Alvarez-Ossorio, Catalogo de los exvotos de bronce, ibericos, Museo Arqueologico Nacional (Madrid, 1941), cat. no. 337, inv. no. 29302, pl. 50.
Lourdes Prados Torreira, "La coleccion de bronces ibericos del Peabody Museum de Harvard", Bronces y Religion Romana: Actas del XI Congreso Internacional de Bronces Antiguos, Madrid, Mayo-Junio 1990, ed. J. Arce and F. Burkhalter, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (Madrid, 1993), 361-67, p. 363, no. 9, fig. 2.
Robert H. Tykot, Lourdes Prados Torreira, and Miriam S. Balmuth, "Iberian bronze figurines: technological and stylistic analysis", From the Parts to the Whole: Acta of the 13th International Bronze Congress, ed. Carol C. Mattusch, Amy Brauer, and Sandra E. Knudsen, Journal of Roman Archaeology (Portsmouth, RI, 2000), vol. 2, p. 27-30, no. 135, fig. 2.
Ángela Franco, "Arte medieval leonés fuera de España", La dispersión de objetos de arte fuera de España en los siglos XIX y XX, ed. Fernando Pérez Mulet and Immaculada Socias Batet, Edicions Universitat Barcelona (Barcelona, 2011), 93-132, p. 115 n.64.
- Subjects and Contexts
- Related Works
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