Archaic Period – Ancient Greece – Sculpture



The Rampin Horseman, ca. 550 BCE, Acr. 590

Housed in the Acropolis Museum

A fragmented male equestrian is featured as subject matter in the object of my discussion, which is housed within the Acropolis Museum, Athens Greece.  I will attempt to translate my visual interpretation into a textual language of description.


The medium of the current statue is in both marble and plaster.  The naked male equestrian is portrayed seated, on horseback in an upright posture, yet, slightly veered torso toward the right. The extended neck line contours from its shoulder with a vestigial crack in its circumference.  The head is asymmetrically defined, yet with an engaging tilt towards the left.  This is more striking when physically moving frontally in the round of the sculpture, as the asymmetrical twist is enhanced in the shadows formed.  The head is sculpted in a triangular shape ending with a sharp chin.  The chiseled arched eyebrows, almond-shaped eyes, eyelids, and ears are treated in linear form, all rhythmically in sync with one another.  The nose is damaged alongside the right sided high-cheek-bone.  The animated facial expression is that of the archaic period, renowned as the ‘archaic smile’.  The nude figure’s hair is treated in symmetry and richly decorative in style: the fringe is painstakingly ornate in pea-sized braided nodes ending in curled octopus-like twirls forming shapes of floral motives in high relief form; his braided neck-lined hair-style frames his stippled chiseled beard.  Evidently the sculptor included a possible declaration of importance to the male figure by refining the head further with a gaudy wreath, organic in design.

The male nude sculpture is impaired, as the seated male horseman defectively excludes all limbs with the exception of a fragmented and detached hand.  The hand is furrowed with a hole which presumably held a pair of reins, clenched and at rest on his stumped upper right thigh.  The naturalistic tendency of portraying an athletic male nude is almost convincing from the appearance of the clavicle bones to the muscular pectorals.  We are then introduced to the linear treatment of portraying an almond-shaped abdominal with defined linear divisions of the musculature and the neatly inscribed navel.  The artist manages to fulfill the male order with the inclusion of the genitalia which is tucked between man and horse.

The remains of a fragmented horse are symmetrically positioned and betwixt by two stumped upper legs of the male equestrian.  The stumped neck and back fragment constitutes a style of simplicity, yet with elegance in the artists smoothly carved rendering and the partial inscribed wave-like striations in forming its mane.  The posture of the horse creates the median between the equestrian and man, excluding its head and the inferred form of a horses body.

When moving in the round towards the rear, you are confronted with the back of the torso, treated in a more simplistic manner than the posterior, with the evidential spinal ridge running symmetrically downward with a slight curve towards the lower back and ending with a V-shaped indentation towards the buttocks.

By Demetrios Voulgarellis

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