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Home > Auctions > 25th May 2021 > Roman Marble Harpocrates Statue Pair

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LOT 0096

GBP (£) 25,000 - 35,000
EUR (€) 29,060 - 40,690
USD ($) 35,060 - 49,090

Opening Bid
£22,500 (EUR 26,157; USD 31,558) (+bp*)

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Roman Marble Harpocrates Statue Pair

2nd-3rd century AD

A pair of life-size marble statues of nude children representing Harpocrates, the god of silence and secrecy, each presented standing on a plinth, the oval face framed by long wavy hair, lotus flower to the top of the head, one hand resting on a pillar surmounted by a pot, the other arm holding a cornucopia. 39.2 kg total, 66-69cm (26 - 27 1/4"). Fine condition. [2]

From a private French collection; acquired from Helios Ancient Art, London, UK, in 1990; formerly forming part a West Sussex estate, acquired between 1960s-1970s; accompanied by an archaeological expertise by Dr Raffaele D’Amato and a geological scholarly report no.TL5370 by Dr Ronald Bonewitz; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.10574-172347.

See Daremberg & Saglio, Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecques et Romaines, Paris, 1873-1917; see Jashemski, W.J., The gardens of Pompeii: Herculaneum and the villas destroyed by Vesuvius, II volumes, New York, 1979; see Currie, S., The empire of adults: the representation of children on Trajan’s arch at Beneventum, New York, 1996; a comparable example is the image of Harpocrates represented with Isis and Osiris from a marble relief found at Henchir el-Attermine, Tunisia, and dated to the last quarter of the 2nd century AD, today at the Louvre (MA3128).

During the Imperial Period, children were widely represented in Roman art. Images of both mortal and divine children appeared in artworks and furnishings of houses, funerary monuments and burial containers, as well as on imperial state monuments such as the Ara Pacis Augustae. Examples are also attested in public buildings, such as bath complexes, for example the sculptures discovered in garden settings in Pompeian domestic contexts (see Jashemski, 1979, vol. 2, pp.87 (House of Julia Felix), 153-54 (House of the Vettii), 193 (House of L. Caecilius Capella), 194–95 (House of the Camillus), 278 (Villa of the Mosaic Columns). Harpocrates, the son of Isis and Osiris, was one of the
most commonly represented children, especially after the diffusion of his cult into the Roman Empire.