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A ROMAN MARBLE RELIEF OF ARTEMIS OF EPHESUS
THE PROPERTY OF A LADY
A ROMAN MARBLE RELIEF OF ARTEMIS OF EPHESUS

CIRCA 2ND CENTURY A.D.

Details
A ROMAN MARBLE RELIEF OF ARTEMIS OF EPHESUS
CIRCA 2ND CENTURY A.D.
Carved in raised relief, the goddess depicted frontally, holding knotted woolen ribbons in each raised hand, wearing her characteristic veil, a polos crown atop her head, and dangling earrings, her tunic with rows of egg-like shapes, perhaps bull testes, suspended along her upper torso, with three lower registers richly decorated with partially-preserved stylized lion heads, a stag at her left side, its head turned to face the goddess, a partially-preserved Latin inscription above, ...STORUM
18 ¾ in. (47.6 cm.) high
Provenance
Antiquities, Sotheby’s, London, 10 December 1984, lot 272.
Private Collection New York, Boston & Texas, acquired prior to 1992; thence by descent to the current owner.
Sale Room Notice
Please note the first line of provenance for this lot should read: Antiquities, Sotheby’s, London, 10 December 1984, lot 272.

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G. Max Bernheimer
G. Max Bernheimer

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Lot Essay

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was hailed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Greeks of Ephesus worshipped a very particular incarnation of Artemis in which she assumed the role of a great mother goddess, more akin to eastern Cybele than to her typical role as a virgin deity of the moon and hunt. Ephesian Artemis is characteristically depicted much as she is in the present example. Much scholarly debate has gone into trying to identify the exact object the nodes are meant to represent, with some believing them to be female breasts, others bull testes, and still others Anatolian gourds, but nevertheless all clearly agree they signify overt fertility.

Although the original cult statue of the goddess was said to be made of wood, which was likely destroyed in a fire in around 356 B.C., artists continued making images of the Ephesian Artemis in all media well into the Roman era. The most famous example is "the Great Artemis statue," a marble example measuring 9 ½ feet, found inside the Prytaneion in Ephesus, and now in the Ephesus Museum (see no. 74 in R. Fleischer, "Artemis Ephesia," in LIMC, vol II). It is fascinating to note that in the many surviving images, it always retained its wonderfully primitive iconography, resisting total classicizing. For a similar example in bronze see no. 133, op.cit.

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