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A ROMAN MARBLE MELPOMENE
THE WESTMACOTT MELPOMENE PROPERTY FROM A MONTECITO COLLECTOR
A ROMAN MARBLE MELPOMENE

CIRCA 1ST-2ND CENTURY A.D.

Details
A ROMAN MARBLE MELPOMENE
CIRCA 1ST-2ND CENTURY A.D.
The muse depicted leaning forward with her right elbow on her raised right knee, the sandalled foot resting on a rock, wearing a high belted chiton, a mantle draped over her left shoulder, holding a tragic theater mask in her left hand, a sheathed knife suspended over her right shoulder along her left side, her round face with unarticulated eyes and heavy lids, her wavy hair parted at the center and pulled back in a low chignon
27½ in. (69.9 cm.) high
Provenance
Collection of Sir Richard Westmacott, London, England (1775-1856).
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 28 June 1965, lot 151.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, Los Angeles, 1-4 June 1981, lot 361D.
Literature
F. de Clarac, Musée de sculpture antique et moderne, Paris, 1832-1841, vol.III, no. 506b, 1045a.
A. Michaelis, Ancient Marbles in Great Britain, Cambridge, 1882, p. 487, no. 2.
S. Reinach, Répertoire de la statuaire Grecque et Romaine, Tome I, Quatre mille statues antiques, Paris, 1906, p. 264, pl. 506b, no. 1045a.
G. Lippold, "Musengruppen," in Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Römische Abteilung, Heidelberg, 1918, p. 90.
B. Neutsch, "Weibliche Gewandstatue im Römischen Kunsthandel," in Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Römische Abteilung, Heidelberg, 1956, p. 50, n. 15.
K. Türr, Eine Musengruppe Hadrianischer Zeit, Berlin, 1971, p. 10, n. 30.
L. Faedo, "Mousa, Mousai," in Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, vol. VII, Zurich and Munich, 1994, p. 996, no. 200a.

Lot Essay

Melpomene, daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne, was the Muse of Trajedy. She was usually depicted with a tragic mask in one hand, as here, and a knife or club in the other, here hanging over her shoulder.

Sculptural groups representing the nine Muses, sometimes including Apollo, were popular at least as early as the Hellenistic Period, and continued to be used by the Romans for the embellishment of theaters, baths, private estates, and in relief on sarcophagi. Hellenistic relief scenes of the nine, perhaps already referencing earlier sculptural groups in the round, are found on a votive relief from Didyma and on the Halikarnassos base (see ill. 31 and 32 in Ridgway, Hellenistic Sculpture I, The Styles of ca. 331-200 B.C.). Perhaps the most famous group, mentioned by Pliny (Natural History, 36.34), was the work of the sculptor Philiskos, located by the Portico of Octavia and in the Temple of Apollo Sosianus. Not much is know of Philiskos, but it is thought the statues described by Pliny were sculpted in Rome by commission, perhaps during the 1st century B.C., rather then booty procured in Greece. Their location in Rome would make them the strongest candidate as the source of inspiration for the many surviving statues of Muses. For the topic see Ridgway, op. cit., p. 252ff.

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