Sardinian Warrior

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Sardinian Warrior

7th to 6th Century B.C
H: 16 cm



An exceptionally rare and important Sardinian bronze figure of a warrior. The highly stylized figure is depicted standing, holding a club resting on his shoulder in the right hand and a round shield with central boss in the left. The warrior wears leggings under a short kilt, a cuirass, ringed neck-guard, and crested helmet with fragmentary horns. The statue was produced in the Nouragian (from ‘nuraghe’, the type of ancient Bronze Age building found across the island), or Geometric, period of Sardinian art. This is one of very few of its type outside Sardinia.

Different types of Nuragic statuettes depicting human figures have been identified: the ‘tribal leaders’, the shepherds, the warriors, the archers, the worshipper(s), groups (mother and child, wrestlers, etc.). These are recognised as representing the higher classes of a hierarchical social structure – those with religious, political or militaristic responsibilities. This figure is of the warrior type. The statuette likely had a votive function; many similar figures have been discovered in the famous Nuragic sacred wells of the island.

Accompanied by a detailed condition report, inventory notes from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and a chemical analysis report carried out by Arthur Beale in 1975 when he was Acting Chief Conservator of the Fogg Art Museum, in preparation for the inclusion of the bronze in a publication by Dr. Miriam S. Balmuth (‘Sardinian Bronzetti in American Museums’, Studi Sardi (1975-1977), Vol. 24).


Contemporary Art: Acquisitions 1962-1965, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, 30th September – 30th October 1966.
¿Kid Stuff?, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, 25th July – 6th September 1971.
Kunst und Kultur Sardiniens: vom Neolithikum bis zum Ende d. Nuraghenzeit, Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe, 18th April -13th July 1980, then Museum für Vor- u. Frühgeschichte d. Staatlichen Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz Berlin in Berlin-Charlottenburg, 31st July – 14th September 1980


Christian Zervos, La Civilisatione de la Sardaigne: Du Debut de L'Eneolithique a la Fin de la Periode Nouragique; IIe Millenaire - Ve Siecle Avant Notre Ere, Editions Cahiers d'Art, 1954, p. 148
Art Quarterly, vol. 39. no. 1, 1966, p. 71
Stephen A. Nash, with Katy Kline, Charlotta Kotik, and Emese Wood, Painting and Sculpture from Antiquity to 1942, Albright-Knox Gallery, New York, 1969, p.73, illus.
Charlotte B. Johnson, Color and Shape, A-KAG, 1971, illus., pp. 11-12.
Kunst und Kultur Sardiniens: vom Neolithikum bis zum Ende d. Nuraghenzeit, Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe im Karlsruher Schloss vom 18. Apr.-13. Juli 1980, Museum für Vor- u. Frühgeschichte d. Staatlichen Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz Berlin in Berlin-Charlottenburg vom 31. Juli-14. Sept. 1980
Miriam S. Balmuth, "Sardinian Bronzetti in American Museums", Studi Sardi (1975-1977), Vol. 24, 145-52, passim, figs. 1 and 2.



Previously in a Private Collection, Germany.
With Jacques O Matossian (1893-1963), Egypt, acquired from the above, until 1960.
With Marguerite (1900-1977) and Paul Mallon (1884-1975), living at that time at Hotel Hassler, Rome, 1960 to 1965.
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY, USA, (inv. no. 65.22), acquired from the above 30th December 1965 with the George B. and Jenny R. Mathews Fund (includes a dated acquisition record).
ALR: S00218849, with IADAA certificate, this item has been checked against the Interpol database

Note on the Provenance

Jacques O Matossian was born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1893 to a family of well-established Armenian Catholic tobacco merchants. His father, Hovanhess Motassian, founded a tobacco workshop in 1882, and later merged this with his brother’s shop to form the family business. When Hovanhess died in 1927, his sons Jacques, Joseph, and Vincent took over the management of the company. They successfully merged with British American Tobacco in July 1927 under the umbrella of Eastern Company, without becoming a subsidiary of the larger company.
Jacques Matossian was known for his collection of Coptic textiles and Islamic art, which he displayed in his villa in Neroutsos street. He contributed to the formation of the Islamic collection in the Louvre and many objects from his collection are now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, from a series of bequests made between 1949 and 1959. He moved to Paris in his later years, and is buried there in the Cimetière de Passy

Paul Mallon was born in Le Havre, France in 1884. As Mallon was not interested in his father’s shipping business, at a young age he began working for a family friend who imported coffee and other goods from Asia. In this role he developed a connoisseurly taste for coffee and experienced his first foray into collecting art. Mallon carefully unfolded and collected the brightly coloured papers used to wrap the parcels sent from Japan – these papers were in fact ukiyo-e prints by Hokusai, Hiroshige, Utamaro and other 18th and 19th-century Japanese artists. Mallon began working for the Orientalist Charles Vignier in his twenties, and quickly became known in the art world for his keen interest in Chinese art. By 1926, Mallon had opened Le Lotus gallery on Rue de Cirque and hired a new secretary Marguerite (Margot) Nabaud Girod, who he married shortly after.

The Mallons had moved their residence and their gallery to the Rue Raynouarz near the Trocadero by around 1934, and Marguerite Mallon took over the running of the gallery. The family joke was that until Margot arrived, Mallon’s business management was so poor that his large safe in Le Lotus held nothing but a bottle of fine port and some pickles. Together, the Mallons maintained a select clientele comprised of people that they liked and could enjoy things like fine food, wine, coffee, and stimulating conversation with. Their success lay in their insistence on quality, and their refusal to over-buy, as they only purchased items they felt would fit their clients’ particular needs. The family visited America each year on long selling trips, sometimes spending eight months at a time at the Gladstone Hotel in New York. They sold works to many American museums, including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington.

In 1946, the family (including Margot’s son Billy from her previous marriage) obtained permits to travel to Egypt. Here they developed an important relationship with Jacques Matossian. While the Mallons’ funds had been depleted during the Second World War, Matossian had both money and sources for objects. As the Mallons had clients eager to buy, this worked very well for both parties. Their son Billy also became involved in the art trade, travelling to places like Beirut and Tehran – first with Matossian, and then on his own.

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery (now the Buffalo AKG Art Museum) is the sixth oldest public art institution in the United States. It was founded in December 1862 as the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, who declared in their first public meeting that ‘Buffalo is to have a permanent Art Gallery at once’. However, it was not until the 20th century that the gallery was to find a permanent home. John J Albright donated funds for the construction of the museum building next to Delaware Park in 1900, and the Albright Art Gallery opened on 31 May 1905 in the new Greek revival building designed by Edward B Green. The gallery was later renamed and reinvented after major donations from Seymour H Knox Jr. and his family, along with hundreds of other donors, facilitated the addition of a new wing designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill of New York. The new addition opened in January 1962, and the museum became the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.