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Post Lot Text
A ROMAN MARBLE TORSO OF NARCISSUS
CIRCA 1ST CENTURY A.D.
Leaning to his left with his left shoulder raised and his arm lowered, the right shoulder lowered, with languid, softly modelled musculature
Narcissus, the son of the river-god Kephisos and the nymph Leiriope, was prophesized a long life by the seer Teiresias, provided that he did not see himself. The youth was famed for his beauty, and many tried in vain to win his love. One rejected lover asked the gods for revenge, and this was fulfilled by Nemesis. While out hunting, Narcissus came to a spring for a dring. Upon seeing his refection, he instantly fell in love with his own image. Unable to pull himself away, he died, either from exhaustion, unrequited love, or drowning. A narcissus flower grew at the spot where he met his death. See Rafn, "Narkissos" in IIMC, vol. VI.
The sculptural type, thought to be based on a Greek original of the late 5th century B.C. by a follower of Polykleitos, is known from numerous late Hellenistic and Roman copies, including an example at Holkham Hall, no. 171 in Beck, Bol and Bückling, Polyklet, Der Bildauer der griechischen Klassik and another in the Metropolitan Museum, in reverse, no. 169 in the same publication. Narcissus stands leaning on a pillar with his left hand, his right arm is akimbo, with his hands resting on his buttocks. The identification of the type as Narcissus has been questioned by some, but can be confirmed by a Roman engraved carnelian gem in Copenhagen (see no. 54 in Rafn, op. cit.), which shows the youth standing at ease before a flowing spring, the name-sake flower already sprouting from the ground behind him.