Figure of a young man from a funerary relief

Greek; Attic
c. 330 BCE
more object details

General Description

Dating to the late 4th century BCE, this finely modeled figure was originally part of a deep relief. Such Greek funerary reliefs often included supporting figures surrounding the deceased person; in this case, an older man, the youth's father, probably once completed the group. The figure's nudity and military stance indicate his heroic death. Turning on the axis of his body to look out of the sculptural space at the viewer, he was depicted in an idealized way as a hero, one who died bravely in battle. The rhythmic curves and contrappasto position are indicative of Late Classical Greek art, as is the focus on an individual person, as by this time patrons had lost some of their interest in images of mighty Olympian gods and legendary heroes.

In both architectural sculpture and single votive statues of Classical Greece, the nude male figure celebrated the human body. In later stages of Greek art, near the end of the 5th and during the 4th centuries BCE, the great patrons and sculptors of Athens embraced a general loosening of classic form, and a more human, emotional approach to rendering the figure. The calm, noble detachment of earlier sculpture gave way to more sensitively rendered images of individuals expressing emotion and feeling. The nude body of this young man has the radiant purity of an athlete in his prime, although implicit in the work is a sense of tragedy, as he has died in the peak of youth. A monument of the highest sculptural quality and of considerable size, this was likely carved by a recognized master of the 4th century BCE. A very similar composition appears on the Ilissos relief (now in the National Museum in Athens) featuring an old man (the father) mourning his son (a nude athlete figure, like ours, but with head intact, see Web Resources below for a comparison). This work is one of the very few surviving 4th-century BCE Greek sculptures in an American collection.

Heather Bowling, Digital Collections Content Coordinator, 2018.

Adapted from:

  • Anne Bromberg, Dallas Museum of Art: Selected Works, (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art, 1983), 101.

  • Anne Bromberg, "Figure of a young man from a funerary relief," in Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection, ed. Charles Venable (New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, 1997), 27.

  • DMA unpublished material, Museum of Europe Label text, August 1993.

Related Multimedia

Collections smARTphone video; Bromberg, Anne R. discusses Figure of a Young Man from a Funeray Relief (DMA collection, 1966.26); Greek, Attic
Learn about late Classical Greece.

Fun Facts

  • This work is one of the very few surviving 4th-century BCE Greek sculptures in an American collection.

  • Because Cecil and Ida Green followed their generous gift of the Classical Greek Figure of a young man with a Roman Figure of a Woman (1973.11), DMA staff fondly referred to the two sculptures as "Ida" and "Cecil."

Web Resources