Browse Lots

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
A COLOSSAL GREEK MARBLE HEAD OF A HELLENISTIC RULER
THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN 
A COLOSSAL GREEK MARBLE HEAD OF A HELLENISTIC RULER

HELLENISTIC PERIOD, CIRCA 3RD-2ND CENTURY B.C.

Details
A COLOSSAL GREEK MARBLE HEAD OF A HELLENISTIC RULER
HELLENISTIC PERIOD, CIRCA 3RD-2ND CENTURY B.C.
With head turned slightly to right, the large almond-shaped eyes heavily-set, the lids delineated, set back beneath a broad furrowed brow, with full bowed lips and rounded chin, a mass of thick leonine curls framing the face with prominent anastole, two horns protruding at hairline, a recessed band across the crown for insertion of now-missing head-piece
30 in. (76 cm.) high
Provenance
Charles Knocker (1862-1944), Devon, UK; and thence by inheritance.
Private collection, David Knight (1951-1993) UK, acquired in the 1970s. David Knight was a connoisseur and avid collector across diverse cultures. His collection included South East Asian sculpture, some of which is now in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Private collection, UK, acquired from the above in 1993.
Exhibited
The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia, 2002-2012.

Condition Report

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

It has been suggested that this impressive head may represent the Antigonid king Demetrios I Poliorcetes, or Demetrios 'the Besieger of Cities' (337-283 B.C.). A Successor to Alexander the Great, Demetrios' father Antigonos had inherited Asia Minor in the break-up of Alexander's empire following his death in 323 B.C.; once king himself, Demetrios launched successful campaigns against the Ptolemies and Seleucids, also Successors to Alexander, to expand his control into Greece and Macedonia. Amid the turmoil and dynastic rivalry in the period that followed Alexander's death, Demetrios acquired a reputation for bellicosity, and also for tactical ingenuity, purportedly devising a wheeled seige tower named 'Helepolis', which stood over 125 feet tall, to aid his attack on Rhodes in 305 B.C.

Demetrios' portrait iconography drew heavily on that of Alexander the Great in a bid to validate and strengthen his claim to Alexander's empire and power. The flowing, leonine hair with anastole, the deep set eyes and furrowed brow all directly reference Alexander's famous portrait-type and imbue the head with a sense of fierce grandure, allying the king visually with his predecessor, whilst also suggesting his own formidable reputation as a besieger of cities. Demetrios is also often portrayed with the horns of a bull, an animal sacred to his patron deity, Poseidon. Cf. a silver tetradrachm in New York (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 67.265.30) and a marble portrait bust from the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli (cf. M. Bieber, The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age, New York, 1955, figs 145 and 146).

More from Antiquities

View All
View All