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Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
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The Kritios or Kritian Boy dates to the Late Archaic period 490-480 B.C.E. The statue is thus named because it is attributed to Kritios, who worked along with Nesiotes, or their school of teaching. The statue is made of marble and is smaller than life-size. The statue was found in various pieces. The torso was found in 1865 during excavations of the foundation of the Athenian Acropolis. The head was found twenty-three years later near the museum and the south wall of the Acropolis which was in the latest stage of rubble of destruction that had occurred during the Persian War.

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This was the first statue in which the Greek artist mastered a “complete understanding of how different parts of the body act as a system” (wikipedia). The left leg of the statue supports the entire weight of the statue while the right leg is bent at the knee and relaxed. This depiction of weight shift starts the change in the body’s position. The pelvis is pushed diagonally upward on the left side and the right buttock is relaxed. As a result of this the body assumes the position of an “S” curve, and the shoulder drops on the lefts side. This is referred to as the “contrapposto” stance, and the Kritios boy is the first example of this. The muscular and skeletal structure are depicted with great accuracy and are not forced as previous sculptures were. The rib cage is naturally expanded to create the illusion of breathing, which is accompanied by the relaxed hips which are narrower. The “archaic smile” of previous periods has been replaced by the “severe” style in which the lips are more accurate and have an austere expression.

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Whitley, James. The Archeology of Ancient Greece. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Posted at Dec 15/2007 10:09PM:
Rachel Griffith: I had no idea the Kritios boy is so small! I figured he would be at least 6 feet high, but apparently he is less than four feet tall. For some reason I really like this statue-- maybe because it is one of the first that is really lifelike by modern standards.