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Home > Auctions > 7th September 2021 > Roman Veined Marble Torso of an Athlete

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LOT 0070

GBP (£) 100,000 - 140,000
EUR (€) 117,520 - 164,530
USD ($) 139,360 - 195,100

Opening Bid
£100,000 (EUR 117,523; USD 139,358) (+bp*)

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Roman Veined Marble Torso of an Athlete

1st-2nd century AD

A powerful veined marble torso of an athlete, depicted standing with his weight on his right leg and the left leg brought slightly forward, the musculature of the torso displaying physical strength with well-defined pectoral muscles, prominent abdominal muscles and wide shoulders, the back with equally toned musculature and well-formed rounded buttocks, the veining of the marble accentuating the idealised anatomy; the now-absent head was most probably turned towards the supporting leg and the left arm would have been raised; mounted on a custom-made display stand. 43.5 kg, 70cm including stand (27 1/2"). Fine condition.

Property of a London gentleman; acquired 2016 from Galerie Chenel, Paris, France; formerly in a French private collection in Compiègne, since the 1960s; accompanied by a French archaeological passport and by an academic report by Dr Laura Maria Vigna; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.10786-177851.

Lyndsey Ingram, Lines of Enquiry, London, 17 September - 8th November 2019, pp.36-37.

See Pozzi, E., Cantilena, R., La Rocca, E., Pannuti, U., Scatozza, L., Le Collezioni del Museo Archeologico di Napoli, La scultura greco-romana, Le sculture antiche della Collezione Farnese, Le collezioni monetali, Le oreficerie, La collezione glittica,Milano, 1989, pp. 100-101, nn. 31-32; Cadario, M., ‘Doriforo della “Palestra Sannitica”,’ in La Regina, A. (ed.), Nike. Il gioco e la vittoria, Milano, 2003, pp. 214 ss.; Adembri, B., ‘Torso di Doriforo,’ in Reggiani A.M. & Sapelli Ragni, M., Eroi e atleti. L’ideale estetico nell’arte da Olimpia a Roma a Torino 2006, Torino, 2006, pp.140ss.; Zevi, F., Demma, F., Nuzzo, E., Rescigno, C., Valeri, C., Museo Archeologico dei Campi Flegrei, Catalogo generale, 1, Cuma, Napoli, 2008, p.334; Franciosi, V., ‘Il “Doriforo” di Pompei,’ in Franciosi, V., Thémelis, P.G., Pompei/Messene. Il “Doriforo” e il suo contesto,Mediterraneo Miti Storia Armonia, 2, Università degli Studi Suor Orsola Benincasa, Napoli, 2013, pp.11-33.

The model of the sculpture recalls the Polykleitos tradition. In particular, the tension of the muscles of the athletic body recalls the Doryphoros of Polykleitian, a famous bronze sculpture erected in Argos in around 450-440 BC, as evidenced by a stele found there. The statue represented a hero, perhaps Achilles, or a winning athlete. Many Hellenistic and Roman copies of this sculpture are preserved, especially the marble ones. These include the statue of Doryphoros in the National Museum of Naples from Pompeii, of Tiberian age, and the naked male statue, a copy of the Doryphoros of Polykleitos in the Doria Pamphilj Collection, dated to the end of the 1st century AD. The raised left shoulder is reminiscent of the Diadumenos, a work by the same artist made in Argos in around 430-420 BC, depicting an athlete girding his head with bandages, a symbol of victory, known from many copies. The torso of Diadumenos from Naples, preserved in the National Museum of Naples, dated to the early imperial age and the torso of Diadumenos from Cuma, in the Archaeological Museum of the Phlegraean Fields, from the first half of the 1st century AD, have similar characteristics to the torso in question. The Polykleitos prototypes had a great success and were used as a reference to a physical canon of perfection and refinement with variations that are also due to great sculptors such as Kleomenes and Lysippos. This representation, albeit with some changes compared to the original model, shows refinement and precision in the analytical treatment of the body with very accurate anatomical partitions and technical expertise in the execution.