Excavated from a cemetery, this kouros is slightly smaller than life-size. It clearly represents an early phase of ancient Greek interest in human anatomy and movement through its defined musculature, the slight forward extension of the figure's left leg, and the hint of a smile—the Archaic smile—that contrasts a life-like naturalism within the kouros' stiff posture. His uniformly waved hair is banded behind the ears, evoking the beaded wigs witnessed in Near Eastern and Egyptian figural artworks of the same period and suggesting, like the stance itself (derived from Egyptian conventions), an interconnected and reciprocal relationship between cultures.
Acquired by Battle between 1905 and 1906, the Kouros from Tenea was one of many casts displayed inside the Old Library (now Battle Hall) during the 1936 University Centennial Exposition. Interestingly, Battle’s cast differs from the original sculpture by including a fig leaf modestly covering his groin and a complete right forearm. When cast, the forearm of the original had been reconstructed in accordance with common 19th century preferences for a complete object, regardless of its authenticity or accuracy. The intervention connecting the right hand to the upper arm of the original has since been reversed for the statue in the Glyptothek, but Battle’s Kouros of Tenea preserves a record of this interesting museum practice. In the 1950s, the cast went into storage and is next recorded in Waggener Hall in an inventory conducted in the spring of 1974. It then moved back to storage, where it remained until the later 1970s, when the fig leaf and damage to the right arm—curiously, the two inauthentic additions—were repaired.
During the 1980s, the Kouros of Tenea was displayed alongside several other casts in the Huntington Art Gallery on campus. The cast was part of the Blanton’s 2004 mass acquisition of Battle’s casts from the Department of Classics, and in 2006, it was installed in the rotunda of the museum’s new building. Presently, the cast stands next to the Hera of Samos in the Osborne Seminar Room, where, given that most of the collection focuses on sculpture from the Classical and Hellenistic periods, the two casts provide viewers the opportunity to examine an early phase of figural depiction in the Greek world.