From:Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities
Name/TitlePlaster cast of a tragic theatre mask
About this objectThis plaster cast copy of a sculpture in the form of a Greek theatre mask, which depicts a male figure with a tragic expression.
This mask is a copy of an original marble sculpture found near the Stoa of Attalos in the ancient agora of Athens, which dates to ca. 1st century BCE. The original sculpture was possibly an architectural element in the form of a theatre mask.
The face features large wide eyes, raised dramatic eyebrows, and a large nose which is cut off at the end. The mouth is wide open and hollow, and the figure has a large, detailed beard and moustache. The forehead is wrinkled, and the cheekbones are prominent. There are no cracks on the piece but there is a sizeable chunk taken out of the lower left side of the face and beard. The hair is wavy and curled away from the face.
In ancient Greece, theatre masks allowed actors to anonymously assume a role and stand out on stage to thousands of viewers. The exaggeration of their faces allowed audiences to follow storylines more easily and identify the characters. The evidence suggests that theatre masks had different, distinct features depending on the character or genre of the performance. For example, masks used in tragedy plays feature an anguished downturned mouth, raised eyebrows and wrinkled foreheads.
The masks that real actors wore in antiquity were made of soft fabrics. As these materials are not long lasting, we do not have any examples of a true theatre masks today – the only surviving evidence of theatre masks are representations of them in paintings and sculptures like this.
MakerMinistry of Culture Archaeological Receipts Fund
Maker RoleCasting and Copying Workshop
Date Made1988-1989 CE
Medium and MaterialsPlaster
Place MadeGreece; Athens
Style and IconographyHellenistic
Measurements290 x 235 x 170 mm
Subject and Association KeywordsTheatre in art
Subject and Association KeywordsTheatre costume
Subject and Association KeywordsArt reproductions
Named CollectionThe James Logie Memorial Collection, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Copyright LicenceAll rights reserved