Unknown artist, Boeotian; Greek
Goat, 5th century BCE
Length: 10.9 cm (4 5/16 inches)
Helen M. Danforth Acquisition Fund 1997.19
Technological advancements in the late 6th century BCE allowed local Boeotian sculptors to move from abstract forms to a more naturalistic style. While it is still slightly stylized, this goat figurine shows a progression toward an increasingly realistic form, with hints of red paint reflecting the use of color to give a naturalistic appearance. This goat figurine was probably left at a sanctuary as a symbolic substitute offering for a deity in place of a full animal sacrifice.(February 18 –April 16, 2000)
This expertly modeled figurine of a goat is from the region of Boeotia, long considered the most important center of terra cotta production in ancient Greece. Although Boeotian figurines are among the most thoroughly studied of ancient terra cottas, their function is still hotly debated. Children may have used animal figurines like this goat as toys, while those discovered in sanctuaries may have been intended as votive gifts to the gods.
This piece was acquired for its exceptional quality (note the elegant forms of the horns, legs, and body) and its remarkable state of preservation. It also fills a gap in the Museum’s collection of Greek terra cottas. Along with our Boeotian goddess, horse and rider, and the female figurines from Tanagra, the Museum can now show the stylistic development and iconographical range of Boeotian terra cottas from the early 6th to the 2nd centuries BC.