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Home > Auctions > 7th September 2021 > Roman Marble Head of Mercury

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LOT 0073

GBP (£) 6,000 - 8,000
EUR (€) 7,050 - 9,400
USD ($) 8,360 - 11,150

Bid History: 1   |   Current bid: £5,400

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Bid History: 1   |   Current bid: £5,400

Roman Marble Head of Mercury

1st century AD

A marble head of a youth, reworked as the god Mercury (Greek Hermes) with two plumed wings on his head, the face symmetrical with thick-lidded eyes and sharp brow bone, straight nose and full lips; short hair arranged in locks leaving the ears uncovered; a lightly worked mass at the back of the neck; mounted on a custom-made display stand. 7.6 kg total, 30cm including stand (11 3/4"). Fine condition.

From an important English collection; before that acquired from Gorny & Mosch, Munich, Germany, 17 June 2015, lot 9; formerly in a German private collection; accompanied by a geological scholarly report no.TL5377 by Dr Ronald Bonewitz and by an expertise by Dr. Raffaele D’Amato; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no. 10754-177456.

See Mendel, G., Catalogue des sculptures grecques, romaines et byzantines, Constantinople, 1914, no.555 (2162), vol.II, pp.279-280, for a very similar sculpture; a similar but more complete head is on display in the Izmir Archaeological Museum; for discussion on Roman copies, see Gasparri, C., ‘Una officina di copisti in eta’ medio-imperiale’ in Bulletin of the Institute of the Classical Studies, Volume 36, issue 555, 1989, pp.96-102.

The head, as seems to be suggested by the imperceptible movement of the neck, was probably slightly inclined towards the right shoulder. It is a Roman work, in imitation of a Greek original of the 5th century BC. The typology follows the model of the Pergamon Hermes (Istanbul, Archaeological Museum), made in the 1st century AD as a copy of the types from the mid 5th century BC known as the Diskophoros (disc carrier), the Doryphoros (spear carrier) or Herakles of Polykleitos the Elder of Argos. A famous reworked Hermes of this category is preserved in Berlin Altes Museum (Inv. No. Sk1833).