Hellenistic Bronze Statuette of a dancer
Period: 2nd Century B.C.
Dimensions: Height: 7.8 cm
Provenance: Ex-Elie Boustros Collection, acquired in the early 1980s.
Conditions: The statuette is pratically intact. Hands are missing.
This piece is a beautiful example of Hellenistic realism in art: from a thematic point of view, the bronzesmith chose to represent an image from daily life (a street dancer, suffering from a sickness or deformity) that is very different from thegrandmythological scenes or images of famous figures. Technically and stylistically, in spite of the miniature scale of the statuette, the subject is nevertheless treated with a remarkable amount of detail and precision, in the pose and in the rendering of the movement and anatomic details.
The unnatural, dramatic position of the figure represents the energetic movements of the dance, usually as a result of the rhythm of the jumping: the weight of the body rests on the toes of the left foot, which is the only point at which the man is in contact with the ground; the legs are bent and crossed; the torso is bent forward, the shoulders and the head are slightly turned to the left; in the frenzy of the dance, his enormous phallus has gotten caught between his legs.
The man, of an astonishing thinness (the skeleton and the musculature of the back, the chest and the legs display a rare precision), is a hunchback and has a large deformity on his chest, which is of large circumference: maybe in his youth he was a victim of rickets.
The age of the dancer is difficult to estimate, but the large, smooth forehead and the features of the face seem to indicate that he is a man of some age.
REEDER E. D. (Ed.), Hellenistic Art in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1988, pp. 141-143, nn. 56-57.
SNOWDEN Jr. F. M., Iconographical Evidence on the Black Populations in Greco-Roman Antiquity in VERCOUTTER J., The Image of the Black in Western Art, Vol. 1 : From the Pharaohs to the Fall of the Roman Empire, Cambridge (Massachussets) - Londres, 1991, fig. 297-298.