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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Jockey of Artemision

Jockey of Artemision - National Archaeological Museum, Athens by Joy of Museum - 1

Jockey of Artemision

The Jockey of Artemision is a bronze statue of a boy riding a horse, dated to around 150 BC. It is a rare surviving original bronze statue from Ancient Greece; it is rare because most ancient classical bronzes were melted down for their raw materials during periods of warfare and strife. This Greek masterpiece, as with other famous classical bronze statues that were saved from destruction, was lost in a shipwreck sometime in antiquity, before being discovered in the modern era.

It was probably dedicated to the Greek gods to honour victories in horse racing competitions. The statue was discovered in 1926 in a shipwreck off Cape Artemision, north of Athens in the Aegean Sea. The first parts of the statue were recovered in 1928, with more pieces were found in 1936 and the following years. The statue was reassembled, and it went on display in 1972. Also found in the same shipwreck were parts of the Artemision Bronze.

This statue was cast in pieces, using the indirect lost wax process and then assembled with welding. Some parts are missing, such as the rider’s whip and reins, and the horse’s bridle. The image of the goddess Nike is engraved on the horse’s right thigh, holding a wreath in raised hands which was a brand for racehorses in Ancient Greece. The horse and its rider are sculpted realistically, with the horse springs away in mid-gallop, with its rear feet on the ground and its front legs raised.  The jockey is riding bareback without a saddle, and he wears sandals and a short chiton and is looking back over his left shoulder as if looking out for competitors in the horse race.

More pictures of this masterpiece at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens – Photo Gallery

Exploring Greek Masterpieces

Reflections

  • What a fantastic story could this statue tell us if it could speak?
  • How old does the boy jockey look?
  • How many of these Greek statues were plundered by various Roman Generals?
  • How many more statues lie in the waters of the Mediterranean?

Jockey of Artemision

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“Time is the wisest counsellor of all.”
– Pericles

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Photo Credit: JOM

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