This colossal head of Apollo is a Roman creation based on a Greek original of circa 480 to 450 B.C. In style the Apollo presented here recalls the Kassel Apollo, named for the best replica of the type now in the Kassel Museum but known from numerous other Roman copies (see B.S. Ridgway, Fifth Century Styles in Greek Sculpture, p. 184). It is traditionally assigned to the Athenian sculptor Pheidias based on Pausanius’s observations (Guide to Greece, 1.24.8) of an Apollo, in bronze, opposite the Parthenon, which was called the Parnopios, “the locust killer,” but this attribution is inconclusive. The Apollo presented here shares similar facial features with the Kassel Apollo, which seem closer in spirit to the Severe Style, thus too early for Pheidias. The center-parted hair and spade-shaped forehead are also similar, but the sculptor of this colossal head has omitted the braid at the back, the small ringlets within the strands and the long tendrils that fall along the neck, perhaps because of its scale, since these intimate details would not have been apparent. The Kassel Apollo has also been associated with the sculptor Kalamis, also based on Pausanius (1.3.4), who mentions his Apollo Alexikakos, “averter of evil,” which he saw in front of the Temple of Apollo Patroos north-west of the Athenian Agora. The statue acquired the epithet because the god stopped the plague during the Peloponnesian War. The style would favor the attribution to Kalamis, as the Severe Style features better coincide with his period of activity, but since the original does not survive, any firm attribution is impossible. The eclectic nature of the stylistic details of the Apollo presented here, as well as the Kassel Apollo type, suggests that it is simply a Roman creation incorporating traits from Greek sculpture of circa 480 to 450 B.C., rather than a direct copy of a lost Greek original.
For the Kassel Apollo, see no. 295 in W. Lambrinudakis, et al., “Apollon,” in LIMC, vol. II. For a version of the head in Naples from the Farnese Collection which shares with the colossal head a frontal placement on broad neck see E. M. Schmidt, “Der Kasseler Apollo und seine Repliken,” Antike Plastik, 1966, no. 14, Pl. 36. 37.
Charles and Agatha Sadler together built an eclectic collection of antiquities and ancient jewelry from across the ancient Mediterranean and Near East from 1954-1992. They combined it with later sculpture and paintings from the Renaissance, amassing a rich and dynamic collection of art, of which this magnificent colossal head was a part. The Sadlers filled their home with their treasures, peppering them on every available space, fulfilling the notion of truly living with their objects.
They were advised by the distinguished British scholar and dealer John Hewett (1919-1994), who played an active role in shaping many collections of Antiquities and Tribal art from the 1950s-1980s. Besides the Sadlers, Hewett was known for selling to the international elite, including Sir Robert and Lisa Sainsbury, Nelson A. Rockefeller, and George Ortiz, as well as institutions such as the British Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.