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A ROMAN MARBLE HERM OF HERMES PROPYLAIOS
PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION 
A ROMAN MARBLE HERM OF HERMES PROPYLAIOS

CIRCA 2ND CENTURY A.D.

Details
A ROMAN MARBLE HERM OF HERMES PROPYLAIOS
CIRCA 2ND CENTURY A.D.
The smooth shaft tapering slightly towards the base, with rectangular recesses on either side at the shoulders, the head with a layered beard of thick locks terminating in snail curls drilled at their centers, the long mustache overlapping the beard and curving in at the ends, his large almond-shaped eyes beneath gently-arching brows, the forehead merging with the bridge of his nose, his hair bound in a diadem, the face framed by three rows of tightly curled ringlets, with a thick long tendril falling onto each shoulder
63½ in. (161 cm.) high
Provenance
Private Collection, Northern California, prior to 1989.
with Royal-Athena Galleries, New York, 1989.

Condition report

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Lot Essay

The Hermes Propylaios ("before the gate") by the 5th century B.C. sculptor Alkamenes was seen at the entrance to the Athenian Acropolis by the Roman writer Pausanias during his travels of the mid 2nd century A.D. While Alkamenes' original sculpture does not survive, it is recognized in numerous Roman copies in marble, two of which bear inscriptions attributing the work to the Athenian sculptor. One was found in Pergamon, and is inscribed: "Here you see Alkamenes' most beautiful image, The Hermes before the Gates; Pergamios dedicated it" (see p. 268, pl. 400 in Stewart, Greek Sculpture); and one was found in Ephesos, inscribed: "I'm not just anyone's work; my form, if you'll look closely, was wrought by Alkamenes" (see p. 268 in Stewart, op. cit.). The inscribed herms and the many other Roman copies share with the present example a mixture of styles. As Stewart explains (op. cit., p. 165) "an archaic-style beard and coiffure were grafted onto a classically modeled head." Further, as an age-old guardian of thresholds, "the Archaistic style not only eased the incongruities of the hybrid composition but imparted an aura of ancient sanctity".

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