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Home > Auctions > 25th February 2020 > Substantial Roman Statue of a Nude Young Boy

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LOT 0104

GBP (£) 60,000 - 80,000
EUR (€) 70,430 - 93,910
USD ($) 78,280 - 104,380

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£54,000 (EUR 63,388; USD 70,455) (+bp*)

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Substantial Roman Statue of a Nude Young Boy

1st-3rd century AD

A very fine figure of a nude putto; naturalistic head and body with soft, childlike features; the left leg slightly forward; the right arm resting, left arm raised with the hand open; the face is worked with great care, with large pupils showing the cavities in which the original stone or glass eyes were inserted; the hair with blocks of curls in a short but dense hairstyle composed of thick short locks, with some in tight curls and others in S-shaped waves, suggesting a natural hairstyle similar to those frequently found in portraits of Roman children. 11.6 kg total, 68cm with stand (26 3/4"). Very fine condition. Excellent workmanship.

Condition report [Click to show]

From a private English collection, acquired in the 1950s from Mathias Komor (1909-1984); old identification of sticker to reverse of base, 'Mathias Komor, Works of Art, New York, Reference F210'; accompanied by an archaeological expertise from Dr. Raffaele D’Amato and by a copy of positive metallurgic analytical results, written by Metallurgist Dr. Peter Northover (ex Department of Materials, Materials Science-Based Archaeology Group & Department of Materials, University of Oxford).

See Daremberg - Saglio, Dictionnaire des Antiquités Grecques et Romaines, Paris, 1873-1917; Jashemski, W.J., The gardens of Pompeii: Herculaneum and the villas destroyed by Vesuvius, II volumes, New York, 1979; Manderscheid, H., Die Skulpturenausstattung der kaiserzeitlichen Thermenanlagen, Berlin, 1981; Zanker, P., The power of the images in the age of Augustus, University of Michigan Press, 1988; Currie, S., The empire of adults: the representation of children on Trajan’s arch at Beneventum, New York, 1996; Rawson, B., ‘Iconography of Roman childhood’, in Rawson, B., Weaver P.R.C., The Roman family in Italy, Status, Sentiment, Space, Oxford, 1997, pp.205-232; Herrmann, J.J.Jr., Deconstructing and Reconstructing the Harvard-Vatican Boys, in Brauer A. (ed.), Teaching with Objects: The Curatorial Legacy of David Gordon Mitten, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA, 2010, pp.34-52; the work of the head shows some similarity with the working hairs of the statue of a boy (in marble) preserved in the Art Institute of Chicago (inv.1976.426); the position of the body is similar to the one of a 1st century AD boy marble piece preserved in Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen (inv.1790), except for the raised left arm; instead, the general position of the body, raised arm included, is like the one of a Roman boy bronze statue (mid-1st century BC-mid-1st century AD) preserved in Saint Louis Art Museum (inv.36:1926).

The craftsmanship, particularly of the hair, shows some similarity with the marble statue of a boy in the Art Institute of Chicago (inv.1976.426); the position of the body is similar to the one of a 1st century AD marble piece preserved in NyCarlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen (inv.1790), except for the raised left arm; the general position of the body, raised arm included, is similar to the bronze statue of a boy (mid-1st century BC-mid-1st century AD) in the Saint Louis Art Museum (inv.36:1926). This lot exemplifies the Roman interest in artistic representations of children. During the Roman imperial period, children were widely represented in the art of both the public and private spheres, with the children of the imperial family given prominent representation on Augustus’ AraPacis. Putti carried a range of meanings; most commonly, they were representations of the god of love (Cupid). Images of both mortal and divine children appeared in the artworks and furnishings of the home, on tomb monuments and burial containers associated with the funerary realm, and on imperial state art. Many Roman sculptures of children appear to have been created for domestic display, as a number of statuettes of children have been found in Roman houses, particularly in gardens.