Boëthos of Kalchedon

Datesactive about 200 - 100 B.C.
RolesArtist, Sculptor

Boethos worked as a bronze caster and silversmith in the second century B.C. As with many ancient sculptors, we know of his work primarily from passing references by Roman writers such as Pliny and Pausanias and from later Roman copies of his sculptures. One signed original statue by Boethos survives: a bronze herm from a shipwreck off the coast of Tunisia near the city of Mahdia, now in the Bardo Museum in Tunis. The Getty Museum's herm so closely resembles the one in Tunis, both stylistically and technically, that it too must have been made in Boethos's workshop.

The two similar herms, one signed and one unsigned, raise questions about the role of the artist and the organization of workshops in ancient Greece. In bronze casting, numerous versions of a work can be produced from the same mold, making the precise role of the artist signing the work unclear. Does the signature of Boethos mean that he created the original mold from which these two slightly different castings were made? Or does it mean that he was the artist who customized this mold with the more elaborate detailing found on the Mahdia herm?