CORINTHIAN HOPLITE HELMET (SOLD)
Greek, ca. 500 BC
Height: 12-1/4 inches (31.2 cm)
Provenance: Private Boston collection, 1960s; Private New York collection
Exhibited: Basel, Switzerland: Antikenmuseum Basel und Sammlung Ludwig; The Merrin Gallery, New York, “Bronze,” starting date: 18 October 1990.
This magnificent bronze helmet is an exceptional example of Corinthian personal armor. It is skillfully beaten from a single sheet of bronze. Delicately everted rims, throughout, add a distinctive finish to the sleek volumes and those around the large eye openings elongate to dramatic eye line extensions. The simple curvilinear forms are nearly “abstract” and consequently appeal to modern tastes in sculpture. Its proportions, spare details, patina, and fine condition combine to make this an especially beautiful work of art in addition to it being a component of a soldier’s panoply. A close comparison is a helmet in the collection of the Staatliche Antikensammlungen in Munich (Inv. 4330).
Developed in the early 600s BC, the “Corinthian style” helmet had no ear holes, but had a (phallic) cap-shaped crown, solid nose guard, flared cheek pieces, and an everted neck guard. For display and further protection, a horsehair crest would have been attached to the top of the crown ridge. Away from combat, the helmet could be pushed up to rest above the face. Its popularity endured through the Archaic and Classical periods.
The Corinthian helmet was depicted on more Greek and Roman sculpture than any other helmet type; it seems the Greeks romantically associated it with glory and the past. The Romans also revered it, utilizing it in copies of Greek sculpture and original Roman works, as well.