Figure D (head of Centaur from group of figs. D and E), West pediment, Temple of Zeus, Olympia
- Figure D (head of Centaur from group of figs. D and E), West pediment, Temple of Zeus, Olympia
- Cornell Cast Collection
- Unknown (Pausanias attributes the West pediment to Alkamenes, possibly erroneously)
- ca. 1890-1900
ca. 475-456 BCE
- probably Berlin, Germany (reproduction)|Olympia, Greece (original)
- Sage nos. 139-154|140 in blue pencil on back|449
- Original Culture:
- Original Style:
- Work Type:
- casts (sculpture)
- plaster cast (sculpture)|marble sculpture in the round (original)
- Apollo (Greek deity)
Centauromachy (Greek mythology)
Ancient Olympia (Greece)
- Image View Description:
- from front
- Image View Type:
- 32 (H, 105 H with bar) x 25 (W) cm
- This is a full-sized cast of the damaged head of the Centaur from a group of figures, D and E, from the West pediment of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia, identified as a Centaur and a Lapith woman. Much of the original statue group is preserved, but it has has sustained heavy damage. The original head is damaged, as here, and what remains is the top of the head with wavy hair and the face missing its lower third, including the mouth and parts of the cheeks. The Centaur's brow is furrowed with starkly rendered lines. Wrinkles on the sides of the beast's nose contribute to his wild and alarmed look. The remainder of this cast group is cataloged as ID no. 798. The whereabouts of the cast sections of the Centaur's shoulders and arms are unknown. Cornell's cast collection originally included full-sized figures from both the west and the east pediments of the temple, as recorded in the Sage Catalogue (ca. 1896). The figures from the west pediment gave their name to Cornell's Temple of Zeus Cafe, where they were on display when the cafe was sited in the space that is now Kaufmann Auditorium in Goldwin Smith Hall. The subject of the West pediment of the Temple of Zeus is a scene of battle between Lapiths and Centaurs at the wedding of Perithoos--king of the Lapiths and friend of Theseus--and Deidameia. Apollo watches over the chaotic scene, directing the action. After an earthquake in the sixth c. CE toppled the temple, its broken elements were gradually covered and protected under several meters of alluvial deposits from the Alpheios and Kladeos rivers. Many figures and fragments from the Olympia pediments were uncovered by German excavators in the final quarter of the 19th c. Excavations at the site are ongoing. Pausanias' description of the temple pediments (5.10.2-10) sheds great light on the subjects of the pediments and both clarifies and confuses the placement of the figures in relation to each other. Various arrangements of figures have been proposed and scholarly debate on the topic continues.
- Good condition
head only from group
metal bar protrudes from underside of cast
- ID nos. 793-798 are a set of figures from the west pediment. Also included in the set are nos. 449, 436, and 474. ID nos. 798 and 449 belong together.
- Bernard Ashmole and Nicholas Yalouris, Olympia: The Sculptures of the Temple of Zeus (London: Phaidon, 1967).
Hans-Volkmar Herrmann, ed., Die Olympia-Skulpturen. Wege der Forschung, Band 577 (Darmstadt, 1987).
Andrew Stewart, Greek Sculpture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), 142-146, 253-254, figs. 262-276.
John Boardman, Greek Sculpture: The Classical Period (London: Thames and Hudson, 1985), 33-50, figs. 18-23.6.
Gipsformerei, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Katalog der Originalabgüsse, Heft 4, Griechenland und Rom: Freiplastik, pls. 76-79.
Georg Treu, Die Bildwerke von Olympia in Stein und Thon. Die Ergebnisse der von dem Deutschen Reich veranstalteten Ausgrabung, Band III (Berlin: Asher & Co., 1894-1897).
Judith Barringer, "The Temple of Zeus at Olympia: Heroes and Athletes," Hesperia 74 (2005), 211-241.
- Cornell University (current)
Olympia, Archaeological Museum (original)
- Repository Location:
- Collecting Program:
- Cornell Collections of Antiquities
- The images in the Cornell Collection of Antiquities: Casts are protected by copyright, and the copyright holders are their creators, generally Cornell University Library, Annetta Alexandridis, and Verity Platt. This collection of plaster casts owned by Cornell University was photographed by Cornell University Library, Alexandridis, Platt, and Andreya L. Mihaloew from 2010-2015, with funding from a Digital Collections in Arts and Sciences Grant to Annetta Alexandridis. Cornell is providing access to the materials for research and personal use. The written permission of any copyright and other rights holders is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use that extends beyond what is authorized by fair use and other statutory exemptions. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. Please contact Annetta Alexandridis and Verity Platt for more information about this collection, or to request permission to use these images.
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