Antiker Abguss eines Kouros

Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst München


This torso is an important object for both the transfer of art during the first half of the first millenium BC as for the techniques employed. It shows in the frontal view a male figure in the nude from the base of the neck to the middle of the thighs. The arms as well as the hands clenched into fists, rest closely against the body. The shoulders terminate in a horizontal plane; the thighs end above the knees in a diagonal fracture, the left leg is put forward. The back of the statue is not sculpted but shows an unstructured plain expanse. A sharp fin that originated as a casting burr marks the transition from the sculptural front to the plain back, when the plaster was filled into the negative mould of the front part of the three-dimensional figure and the surplus material was removed levelly. The interest of the artist lay in the type of statue rather than the design of the head. The nudity of the body is typical for Greek sculpture, while the strictly frontal structure of the torso as well as the striding posture refers to elements of Egyptian art.

Both aspects connect in statuary works of late Egyptian art, when Greek sculptors settled in the city of Naucratis the western delta of the Nile. The city was founded in the seventh century BC as a Greek colony and the import and export between Greece and Egypt are processed from here. The city becomes the centre of a cultural exchange through which Egyptian statuary prototypes arrive in the eastern Mediterranean. Thus, the development of Greek human sculpture received a major impulse from Egypt.

Small standing-striding figures of young men in the nude (Greek: “kouros”) are frequently attested in Naucratis during the sixth century BC. It may be assumed that they were sent as models to the Greek artists in the twin cities of Naucratis. From this period, the technique of plaster casts is confirmed several times. Usually, not the entire statue but only parts such as heads or torsi were copied to serve as sculptors’ models.


Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst München (SMAEK)