This charming terracotta shows the god Apollo, crowned with laurel and wearing the long, flowing robe of the Ionic bard. His left arm is bent to cradle the now missing kithara, what Aristotle calls a tekhnikonorganon, a musical instrument designed for use by the tekhnitês, a master technician of instrumental performance, typically a professional virtuoso. Standing with the weight on his left leg, the right one bent forward and the body leaning far back in contrapposto, the god of music plays the instrument with lively enthusiasm by strumming the strings with a stiff plectrum held in his right hand, elbow outstretched and palm bent inwards.
The kithara was played primarily to accompany dance, epic recitations, rhapsodies, odes, and lyric songs. It was also played solo at the receptions, banquets, national games, and trials of skill. During performances, the instrument rested against the musician’s shoulder and was supported by a sling that wrapped around the left wrist. The musician could regulate pitch by the tension and, perhaps, thickness of the strings. By the end of the seventh century BCE, the kithara found a major niche in Greek public performances and kitharôidia (κιθαρῳδία), the unified combination of vocal and instrumental music, long enjoyed the greatest prestige of any solo musical performance genre throughout the Greek-speaking Mediterranean.
Bundrick, Sheramy D. (2005). Music and Image in Classical Athens. New York: Cambridge University Press. Schlesinger, Kathleen (1911). "Cithara" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 395–397. "The Kithara in Ancient Greece | Thematic Essay". Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
Condition: Complete, the figure reassembled from large fragments, with fill and minor aesthetic overpainting where necessary. With good remnants of white engobe, purple, red and brown paint, the mounting hole for the now missing instrument is on the left. A large and truly charming example.
Dimensions: Height: 25 cm (9.8 inches)
Provenance: Private southern German collection, acquired in the 1970s, thereafter in a Spanish collection, acquired from the German trade in 2013.
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