Exceptional museum-quality head | 7th Tiberius Auction
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Exceptional museum-quality head

7th Tiberius Auction

Exceptional museum-quality head

After Sale Price:  25.280

  • BTC: 1,56685440 ฿
  • USD: 26.569 $
  • GBP: 21.683 £
  • CNY: 199.232 ¥

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Exceptional museum-quality head
Neptune or Jupiter
Roman
2. century AD
Marble
Height 25 cm

This head is an extremely high-quality sculptural work of antiquity, which also shows remains of polychromy. It depicts either the Roman god of the sea, Neptune, or the father of the gods, Jupiter, although these two are often confused in terms of their physiognomy. Generally, they are shown as older, fatherly deities with full beards.

The expressive face is framed by wild curls, combed away from the forehead in the typical manner of a so-called anastole, with the strands of hair styled in a wreath-like arrangement. This hairstyle is considered one of the most popular in the ancient world and originally came from Alexander the Great in the 4. century BCE. The voluminous beard appears to be braided or parted in the middle. The dramatic-looking, yet neatly groomed hair draws the viewer’s gaze to the face of the depicted god: large, almond-shaped, and alert eyes peer out from the deeply notched ridges of the eyebrows with a stern look. The sole wrinkle on the fleshy forehead testifies to the age and wisdom of the god, who may also perform a punitive role. The once sharp-edged, probably concisely modelled nose sits over the slightly open, full mouth, whose framing, stylised beard emphasises the severity of the god’s expression.

This type of beard developed from Greek sculptural art, comparable to the Greek head of Zeus in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (Collection of Classical Antiquities, inv.no. I 1287). This particularly matches that on a Roman cameo from the 1. century CE, which is also in the KHM (Collection of Classical Antiquities, inv. no. IX 1929). A head of Poseidon worked in a similar manner is also found in the KHM (Collection of Classical Antiquities, inv. no. I 836). Here the drill holes of the hand drill, which was used by the sculptor to create the hair’s volume, are also clearly visible. This head of hair and the parted, curly beard with the bulging lower lip correspond to the same type. The full beard divided into two large central curls and the long, wavy curls of the main hair are important components of a type that was very popular in Roman times. It was probably used in imperial propaganda to unite the different ethnic groups of the Roman Empire under central rule.

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