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    Sale 5951

    Antiquities Including the Plesch Collection of Ancient Glass

    28 April 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 248

    A GRAECO-ROMAN ARCHAISTIC MARBLE HERM HEAD OF THE HERMES PROPYLAIOS

    CIRCA 1ST CENTURY B.C., AFTER A GREEK ORIGINAL OF CIRCA 430-420 B.C.

    Price Realised  

    A GRAECO-ROMAN ARCHAISTIC MARBLE HERM HEAD OF THE HERMES PROPYLAIOS
    CIRCA 1ST CENTURY B.C., AFTER A GREEK ORIGINAL OF CIRCA 430-420 B.C.
    The god with archaic style beard and hair, the hair arranged in three rows of tight curls over the brow, wearing a fillet, eyes recessed for inlay with remains of inlay in right eye, mounted
    8 in. (20.5 cm.) high


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    In Ancient Greece, the God Hermes was a phallic god associated with fertility, luck, roads and borders; he was also known as the messenger of the Gods, and later as the patron of markets and merchants, travellers and athletes. His name is thought to derive from the Greek word herma, a boundary stone or pillar of square rectangular form topped by the head of Hermes, and with ithyphallic male genitals further down on the pillar. These herms were placed at strategic points along roadsides and crossroads, marking boundaries, and also placed outside houses, gymnasia and in markets, in order to ensure the fertility of herds and flocks, and to bring luck.

    The example we have here is a copy of a famous sculpture, the Hermes Propylaios (Hermes Before-the-Gates) which stood at the entrance to the Acropolis at Athens. The original, by the renowned Athenian sculptor, Alcamanes, in the second half of the 5th Century B.C., is known to us from literary descriptions, and from later copies. Cf. A. Stewart, Greek Sculpture, Yale, 1990, pp. 267-8, pl. 400, for similar.

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    Provenance

    Formerly in a French private collection; given to the present owner in the early 1980s.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN


    Post Lot Text

    END OF SALE

    ... atque solitudinem faciunt bonum eventum appellant.
    (after Tacitus, Agricola, 30.6)