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Home > Auctions > 5th March 2024 > Roman Marble Janiform Herm Head

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LOT 0138

GBP (£) 20,000 - 30,000
EUR (€) 23,370 - 35,050
USD ($) 25,350 - 38,020

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11 3/8 in. (12.6 kg, 29 cm high).

Carved architectural element depicting a double herm comprising: a diademed female bust with long wavy hair framing the face, slender features with small mouth and raised lids; the other side with a diademed female with hair arranged in neat curls on the forehead, large eyes and small mouth, taenia shown on each side of the neck; base reworked with drilled sockets for mounting.

Old collection, acquired in the 1970s.
Acquired by inheritance from Mr N.S.

Accompanied by an academic report by Dr Marina Mattei and Dr Laura Maria Vigna.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by search certificate no.12084-211893.

Cf. Mansuelli, G.A., Galleria degli Uffizi, Le Sculture, Parte l, Roma, 1958, pp. 159-160, n. L32; Sciarra, B., Brindisi. Il Museo Archeologico Comunale, Brindisi, 1976, p. 8, n. 34; Bonanno, A., Un gruppo diermette decorative a Malta, in ArchCl 29, 1977, pp.399-410, tavv. LL2-LL6, specialmente p. 402; Faedo L., Camposanto Monumentale di Pisa, Le Antichità, ll, a cura di Salvatore Settis, Modena, 1984, p.178, n. 81; Moreno, P., Viacava, A., I Marmi Antichi della Galleria Borghese, Roma, 2003, pp. 767-168, n.138.

The head with elaborately curled hair and diadem could represent Ariadne, as shown by comparisons with a fragment of a two-faced herm with bearded Dionysus and Ariadne preserved in the Antiquarium Ostiense, dated to the lmperial Roman age. The heads could be interpreted either as Ariadne and a Maenad, or as two Maenads being characterised by the diadem and long taeniae. The association of these figures with Dionysus is congruent with the typology of the herm, which refers to rural places and theatres. Numerous herms in fact attest that this type of sculpture was used in contexts linked to Dionysus and his sacred procession as well as, obviously, the representation of Ariadne, his female partner and double.
The example fits into the class of domestic sculpture with a decorative function, mostly used to adorn peristyles and viridaria; the type placed at the crown of columns and pillars is quite documented, in particular in the version with the head of Dionysus contrasted with that of Ariadne
or a Maenad.