Marble Head of DionysosMarble Head of Dionysos

Hammer Price w/ BP


Lot #: 146
Marble Head of Dionysos
Roman Imperial, Hadrianic, 1st half of 2nd century AD, after an early 4th century BC, Late Classical Greek Archetype.
Total height: 33 cm (13 in), Height of face: 16.5 cm (6.5 in)
Acquired by Mr. Clinton Gilbert from the Kalebdjian Frères, Paris, on May 1, 1923; By succession to his widow Mrs. Magdalene Lydia, 1924; By succession to her son Mr. Dexter Spear French, 1951; By succession to his wife Mrs. Donna Gould, 1994.
Auction Date
Sep 28, 2019


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The fine-grained marble head depicts Dionysos, the ancient Greek god of wine, theater, and ecstatic revelry, who is represented absently gazing down, three-quarters to its proper right side. The oval visage with crisply delineated large eyes and arched brows has a long straight nose and small, parted mouth with fleshy lower lip. The centrally-parted voluminous coiffure is crowned by an ivy wreath with 22 heart-shaped leaves, two corymb berry clusters on top (one missing), and two more on the sides, closer to the ears, which are one quarter covered by backswept, thick locks of wavy hair. Behind, the strands are all gathered in a krobylos, where all the hair is looped from the nape up and from the front through a single or double fillet, taenia. This forms a distinctively shaped chignon that is often seen on Dionysos. In this case, one single corkscrew curl cascades down the length of the long neck on each side. The symmetrical features are emphasized by the central hair part and the resulting, perfectly V-shaped forehead. The eyelids are slightly asymmetric to compensate for the three-quarter viewing angle from the front, where the spectator would be. Throughout, the modeling is sensual and nuanced, with contrasting rhythms of serpentine hair and smooth, godly flesh.

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