16 Jan 2017

Head of Dog From the Acropolis

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Late Classical Greek Marble Head of a Dog

Marble, Late 4th century B.C.E., Attic

W. 24 cm.

The most famous example of a dog carved in marble in Greek art is an example from the 6th century BC found at the Acropolis in Athens. This dog is thought to have been presented to the goddess Artemis of Brauronia, and its sharp gaze and figural handling all give a sense of tension to the form which looks as if it is about to leap up. By contrast, here the dog’s ears lie flat, there is a somehow immensely pettable quality to this dog, who is shown with a gentle somehow pensive gaze.

There was a remarkable practice of building stone steles in graveyards from the 6th century BC onwards in Greece, and developing from their simple styles seen in the early period of this practice, by the 5th to 4th centuries BC they had expanded into multi-figured scenes. Images of the deceased and his beloved dog frequently feature in these graveyard scenes, and it seems likely that this marble dog’s head was originally part of such a scene.

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