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Home > Auctions > 7th September 2021 > Monumental Roman Marble Head of Apollo Giustiniani

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LOT 0069

GBP (£) 50,000 - 70,000
EUR (€) 58,760 - 82,270
USD ($) 69,680 - 97,550

Bid History: 1   |   Current bid: £45,000

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Bid History: 1   |   Current bid: £45,000

Monumental Roman Marble Head of Apollo Giustiniani

1st century BC-2nd century AD

A larger than life-size marble head of god Apollo, depicted in the style commonly known as Apollo Giustiniani type, the head slightly inclined towards the right and long hair gathered into a complex coiffure, tied into a topknot over the forehead with strands of hair falling symmetrically onto the forehead and temples, as well as on the neck, the locks dressed around the head leaving the earlobes uncovered, and pulled into a sumptuous chignon behind the neck; the face with fleshy, round cheeks with high cheekbones, almond-shaped eyes with thick half-closed lids, straight nose and slightly open mouth with plump lips; mounted on a custom-made display stand. 48.1 kg, 46cm including stand (18 1/4"). Fine condition.

From an important English collection; formerly in a private Belgian collection, since the 1990s; accompanied by an academic expertise by Diana Mroczek; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.10736-177468.

See Brunn, H., Griechische Götterideale in Ihren Formen Erläutert, München, 1893, pp. 84-95; Furtwängler, A., Meisterwerke der griechischen Plastik: Kunstgeschichtliche Untersuchungen, Leipzig, 1893, pp.338-339; Simon, E.G., Bauschenß, LIMC II, 1984, no.75, pl.307, pp.388-89, s.v.Apollon/Apollo; Smith, A. H., A Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities British Museum, vol. III, London, 1904, cat.1547, pp.15-16; Pollitt, J.J., Art in the Hellenistic Age, Cambridge, 1986, pp.47-58; Smith, R. R. R., Hellenistic Sculpture, London, pp.240-242.

Right after the material damage of Greece by the victorious Rome, the demand for copies of Hellenistic art was growing, especially for decorating newly constructed buildings across the Empire. The character of this sculpture suggests that it was created for a building intended for leisure, such as a theatre or baths, where the eponymous copy was discovered. The head of Apollo presents the Giustiniani type, best known from the sculpture displayed in the British Museum that is a nearly identical copy of this sculpture. It was suggested that the type has been created in the late 4th century BC, after Alexander the Great. The sculpture bears archaic features, most likely applied by the Roman copyist. They are visible in the sharp-edged features and general composition of the sculpture, one which Furtwängler associates with the sculptor Kresilas, active in 5th century Athens. The sculpture bears resemble to the Lysyppian School, particularly its portraits of Alexander, or the head of Helios from Rhodes. This iconographic type takes its name from the Giustiniani family of Rome, who first owned the copy held in the British Museum. The type, frequently compared with Apollo Belvedere, shows a contrasting expression. Where Belvedere presents the god in the active pose of a noble warrior, the Giustiniani type is focused on the artistic, more ethereal aspect of the god of music and poetry. The sculpture is the copy of a lost bronze original made possibly as early as in the 5th century BC.