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The Chatsworth Head
Chatsworth Head BM GR1958.4-18.1.jpg
Year c.460 BC
Type Cast bronze
Height 31.6 cm
Location British Museum, London
A bronze leg, probably from the same statue (Louvre)

The Chatsworth Head is a slightly over-life-size bronze head dating to around 460 BC. It was originally part of a complete statue, probably (judging by the shoulder-length curly hair) one of Apollo, made up of various sections (eg head, arms, legs, some of the locks of hair) produced separately by lost-wax casting then joined into one whole - a leg from the same sculpture is in the Louvre (Br 69). Its eyes probably originally held glass, marble or ivory inlays, which were held in with surviving bronze plates, which curl outwards to form eyelashes. Its lips seem to have been plated with reddish copper to imitate their natural colour.

It was found near Tamassos on Cyprus in 1836 and was acquired by the 6th Duke of Devonshire at Smyrna from H.P. Borrell in 1838. He and his successors kept it at their residence of Chatsworth House, from which it takes its name. It was loaned to the Fitzwilliam Museum in the mid-1930s, and was acquired from the 11th Duke by the British Museum in 1958. It has the British Museum catalogue reference 1958 0418 1 and is on show there, in Room 15.

Curious Feature of the Head

A small, lateral section of the rear of the head at the eye level has been removed in a way which implies that it was meant to allow light to pass to illuminate the eyes of the statue. It may be that the head was positioned so as to take advantage of this feature in a temple, or the position of the sun at a given time of the year, but this is speculative.

External links

Bibliography

  • D.E.L. Haynes, The technique of Greek Bronze (Mainz am Rhein, 1992)
  • C.C. Mattusch, Greek Bronze statuary (Cornell University Press, 1988)
  • L. Burn, The British Museum book of G-1, revised edition (London, The British Museum Press, 1999)
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