The Getty Villa Ancient Sculptures and Statuettes page contains 80 images, including a
few images which were taken in the Getty Center before the sculptures were moved back
to the Getty Villa after renovations were completed in 2006. Included on this page are the
Victorious Youth, Enthroned Zeus and other art objects from Greece, Rome and Etruria.

This page contains several images of objects which were returned to Italy after it had been
determined that they were illegally excavated and sold by dealers trafficking in looted art.

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Controversial Antiquities

This first group of images shows some of the antiquities which were part of a group of 40 objects
which the Getty repatriated to Italy after determining that they had either been looted or smuggled.


Aphrodite Cult Statue HS4093

Cult Statue of a Goddess, Greek (South Italy), 425-400 BC, limestone, marble and pigment.

The Cult Statue of a Goddess, also known as the Getty Aphrodite and the Morgantina Venus, is a monumental (7.5 ft., 2.3 m) acrolithic (with stone extremities) statue of a deity (probably Aphrodite, Hera or Persephone), made of Sicilian limestone and Parian marble which was acquired by the Getty in 1988 and returned to Italy in 2010 when it was determined that it was most likely illegally excavated in 1977 or 1978 near the 5th-to-1st century BC town of Morgantina in Sicily. The physique and the diaphanous clothing suggest the traditional identification as Aphrodite, although the statue's breasts are not typical of those of most Aphrodite sculptures from the end of the 5th century BC. Images of Demeter from this period were typically wearing a peplos (a draped garment held on the shoulders by a fibula... the chiton was a sewn garment). The combination of a chiton and himation (a draped mantle or wrap which played the role of a cloak in the Archaic through Hellenistic periods from 750-30 BC) indicate the possibility that the statue could be representing Demeter, whose statues and reliefs were often shown with a similar physique, clothing and posture during the late 5th century BC.

The pieced construction of the sculpture, with a limestone body and marble head and extremities, the painted drapery, and the probable use of gilt bronze hair make it likely that this sculpture was housed in a sanctuary and not exposed to the elements. The artist was familiar with the new developments in the carving of Athenian drapery in the last third of the 5th century BC, which were used on sculptures for the Parthenon (completed in 432 BC). The richness of the drapery with its variety of folds and multiple textures of cloth along with the portrayal of wind-blown drapery indicate the artist's familiarity with the new style.


Aphrodite Cult Statue 1650-1623

The Cult Statue of a Goddess was originally purchased by the Getty in 1988 for $18 million. Often identified with Aphrodite, as has been discussed and will be further elaborated below, experts now consider it to be a representation of either Persephone or Hera. The Goddess now resides in a 17th century Capuchin monastery in Aidone, near the town of Morgantina where it was excavated. The windblown drapery of the Goddess is a clear reference to Phidias, the Greek master sculptor who carved the figures adorning the Parthenon in Athens, and it is one of very few in existence from the high Classical period in Greece.

Note the broken edge of the himation (draped mantle) behind the left shoulder of the sculpture in the image above (right). This edge, along with several unrestored fragments, indicate that the himation was originally pulled over the head of the statue. Use of the himation as a veil was typical in depictions of mature married women, which would eliminate Aphrodite as the subject. Both Demeter and Persephone were often depicted with veils of this type, and both were worshipped in Sicily. The most likely candidate may be the goddess Hera, who was also worshipped in Sicily. Hera was often shown in bridal dress. The Cult Statue wears a tripartite costume: a linen chiton (only visible where it buttons at the shoulders and just above the feet), a woolen peplos (the upper folds covering the breasts and torso, the lower folds over the left lower leg and right foot), and the himation of very light material (which swirls around the legs and lower abdomen, held in place by the lowered left arm). This is most likely a bridal costume, thus making it more likely that this is a depiction of Hera, whose marriage to Zeus was celebrated in her temples.


Aphrodite Cult Statue 2117

For many years, the Cult Statue of a Goddess was purported to have been in the family of a former Swiss policeman for more than 50 years after his father purchased it in Paris in the 1930s, but the Getty hired private detectives in 2006 who tracked down photos of the fragmentary statue and a link to organized crime which destroyed the credibility of that story. Those photos showed fragments scattered in a pile of dirt on a brown tile floor, and the marble face still encrusted by dirt. The date on the photos (early 1980s) proved that the statue was illegally excavated not long before the Getty bought it from the London dealer. The Getty agreed to return the Cult Statue of a Goddess as part of a group of 40 antiquities that had been determined to have been illegally excavated or smuggled from Italy.

More images of the Cult Statue of a Goddess are shown on the Getty Museum Ancient Sculptures page.


Apollo HS3776


Apollo HS3778

Apollo, Roman, 100-200 AD, marble

Apollo (god of prophecy, music and poetry), depicted as a young man. Carved in the Archaistic style which reflected a renewed interest in Greek art of the Archaic period (700-480 BC), the god stands frontally with his weight on his left leg, the left hip thrown outward, and his right leg slightly advanced (this leg was restored between the knee and ankle, which was missing when the statue was acquired in 1985). He is nude except for a cloak covering most of his back, wrapped over his left arm and hanging forward over his right shoulder. A fillet binds his hair, and two corkscrew curls spiral down over his temples. Beside Apollo are the fragmentary hindquarters of a seated griffin, a mythical winged feline which frequently accompanied the god.

The Apollo statue was originally thought to have been created between 320-280 BC due to the techniques of carving, the finishing of the hair, body and drapery, the details of the griffin and plinth, and the simplified connections with dowels. It was thought to be a rare example of Archaizing Greek art from the period before the late Hellenistic age in Greece, but later analysis determined that it was a Roman work from the first to 2nd century AD. While the mass of corkscrew curls is a Roman feature, the smile and the deep folds of drapery are characteristically Greek.

Purchased by the Getty for $2.95 million from diamond magnate Maurice Tempelsman (with the Trapezophoros), this is one of the antiquities which was returned to Italy after they were discovered to have been looted or smuggled. The statue was pictured on the Medici Polaroids which were seized in Geneva from the antiquities dealer Giacomo Medici, who sold more antiquities at Sotheby's than any other dealer in the 1980s.


Apollo 1629

The Archaistic Roman marble statue of Apollo (100-200 AD), taken at the Getty Museum before it was moved to the Villa.


Apollo HS3786

Detail of the head of the Apollo statue. Note the characteristic Roman curls in the hair, which is bound by a fillet.


Tyche HS3707


Tyche HS3704

Tyche (goddess of good fortune, especially of a city), Greek, 150-100 BC, Marble

This 33 inch Hellenistic-period Greek marble statue of Tyche, identified by the crown shaped as a city wall, is one of the antiquities which the Getty returned to Italy. The small size of the sculpture suggests that it was used for private worship. Holes in the ears and the back of the neck indicate that the statuette was originally adorned with earrings and a necklace. Originally purchased from the Fleischman collection for $2 million (the Fleischmans were on the board of the museum at the time). The statue was depicted, before it was cleaned of the encrusted dirt, on the Medici Polaroids which were seized in Geneva.

Several features of this statue give the impression that it is a distinctly late Hellenistic interpretation of the earlier model. The thong sandals with thick soles indented between the big toe and the others are typical of High Hellenistic statues and remained fashionable through the second century BC. The thin chiton gathered and sewn to a neckband is common to goddesses on the altar at Pergamon among others. Over the chiton Tyche wears a peplos, an old-fashioned garment which was not often portrayed by Hellenistic artists. This peplos is different than Classical peplophoroi in that it is long enough to trail on the ground, and the fabric of the upper dress clings to the body and falls in deep folds around the legs.


Tyche HS3712


Tyche HS3713

The statuette of Tyche is made of a translucent, large-crystaled Greek island marble. The heavily-draped figure is identified by the turreted mural crown as Tyche, in this case the personification of a specific city's identity rather than the goddess of good fortune in general. In the Hellenistic period (323-31 BC), statues of Tyche were commissioned by cities to ensure safety and prosperity. This statuette was probably a miniature version of a life-size (or more likely a colossal) public monument made in early Hellenistic times, when many cities were founded by Alexander's successors and images of their Tychai were created.

The left arm, which was made separately and attached with a metal dowel, probably held a cornucopia (although another attribute such as a baby or a small animal is also possible). The right hand, lowered and extended to the side, very likely held the top of a ship's rudder which was attached by a pin at the base beside the right foot. The basic figure type and the drapery is similar to statues of Eirene, the personification of Peace. The mural crown, which is tall and narrow in comparison to the broader crowns of Roman statues, has the form seen in copies of the early Hellenistic Tyche of Antioch.


Tyche 3030

The most unusual element of this statue is the long veil which is worn over the mural crown instead of under it,
falling from the top of the headdress to the ground. This fashion is similar to very ancient religious cult images.
The style of this statue indicates that it was made in a workshop in a Greek city of coastal Asia Minor or nearby
islands. The careful workmanship and the fact that this statue was adorned with real jewelry suggests that the
statue had a devotional significance for a wealthy family or an association of merchants. This Tyche statuette
is the finest of the surviving versions of this type of sculpture, and it is the only one whose head is still intact.


Dionysos HS3761


Dionysos 2157

Statuette of Dionysos with an Animal, Roman, mid-1st century AD, marble.

This statuette of a draped Dionysos (Bacchus) with an Animal is 24" tall with its rectangular integral plinth. Sculpted to mimic Archaic stiffness, the statuette is draped with delicately carved, diagonally worn animal skins and complex layered garments. This statuette is part of a series of Roman statues made in the 1st c. AD which were influenced by the Archaic revival of late Hellenistic Rhodes and Asia Minor, and is the only one of the series with its original head, which is wreathed with vine leaves and grape clusters. Dionysos' hair hangs in long ribbon-like strands, two on either side at the front, and is gathered in a barrette in the back. His eyes are lowered, and he evinces an enigmatic smile, which is emphasized by the long mustache, the ends of which curl up in an unusual manner for an antiquity. His beard is a broad Archaic spade shape with an offset upper section and with the tip tied off in a tassel.

Most statues in this series have small animals, although all but fragments have been lost. In this statue the entire body is intact, although the head is missing. The animal (what seems to be a well-developed but tiny male goat with a massive chest) rests its left foreleg on Dionysos' left knee and steps on his foot with its left rear hoof. Its coat is rendered in rows of snail-shell curls.

Acquired as part of the Fleischman Collection (and pictured on the Medici Polaroids), this statuette was returned to Italy.


Venus-Hygieia HS4124

Venus-Hygieia, Roman, Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), c. 200 AD, marble.

Standing with her weight on one leg and clothed in a voluminous gown, this statue of a goddess looks off to her left. Her precise identity is uncertain because the figure displays elements connected with more than one deity: Hygieia, the goddess of health, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love. The presence of the small, sleeping Eros, the winged young god of love, who leans against her leg, and the goddess's hairstyle argue in favor of her identity as Aphrodite. Yet the dress the goddess wears and the snake she holds are more typical of Hygieia. Furthermore, the egg she holds, an emblem of Hygieia's father Asklepios, associates her with that goddess. The two primary temples to Hygieia outside of mainland Greece were in Cos and Pergamon in Asia Minor.

As a relative latecomer to the classical pantheon, Hygieia lacked a distinct mythology and hence definitive attributes. Frequently Hygieia was blended or merged with another goddess, both in cult practice and in depictions, and this combination may be represented here. At Athens, Hygieia was the subject of a local cult from at least the 7th century BC. A brass statue of Athena Hygieia was set up at the Parthenon by Pericles in the 5th century BC, and Pheidias created a gold image of her. The cult of Hygieia as an independent goddess did not begin to spread until after the Oracle at Delphi recognized her, and after the Plagues of Athens in 430-427 BC, described by Thucydides (who survived the disease, which may have been a hemorrhagic fever), and after the plague in Rome and Latium of 293 BC. By the 2nd century AD, there were statues of both Hygieia and Athena-Hygieia at the entrance to the Acropolis.


Venus Genetrix HS3702


Venus Genetrix HS3700

Venus Genetrix, Roman, 100-200 AD, marble.

This slightly less than life-size statue depicts Aphrodite (goddess of love) in her aspect as a mother in the type known as Venus Genetrix, the Frejus-type, after the best existing copy of the Greek original, found at the Forum Julii in Frejus in 1650 and displayed at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The Greek original was a lost bronze of Aphrodite by the sculptor Callimachus, dressed in a light but clinging chiton or peplos, lowered on the left shoulder to reveal her breast and hanging in a sheer, decoratively carved face to reveal her body beneath. In her left hand she held the apple she won in the Judgement of Paris, her right hand was lifted to cover her head. All surviving marble copies are derived from this lost bronze from about 410 BC, whose composition was frontal. In 46 BC, a statue of Venus Genetrix by Arkesilaos (a Greek sculptor referred to only by Pliny as one of the finest of his age) was erected by Julius Caesar in the temple dedicated to the goddess in his Forum Julii (see the Rome section). This sculpture is also now lost, but numerous Roman copies were made (the best of which is the Aphrodite of Frejus). This statue is also one of those copies, made by an accomplished sculptor, possibly Kallimachos or Alkamenes.


Venus Genetrix 3041

The Venus Genetrix taken at the Getty Center before it was moved to the Villa.
This statue was likely displayed at a private villa, and the relatively less-finished
rear of the figure indicates that the sculpture was most likely mounted in a niche.


Hercules HS3821

Hercules, Roman, 100-200 AD, marble and pigment.

The greatest of the Greek heroes, Herakles was enthusiastically adopted by the Romans, who called him Hercules. Although this statue has been damaged over time, the standard attributes of the hero (the skin of the Nemean Lion and the club) identify him. In this sculpture, Hercules also wears a wreath of white poplar leaves and a fillet (ribbon) in his hair, with the ends of the fillet trailing over his shoulders. The fillet marks him as an athletic victor, and white poplar was associated with the Olympic Games, which Herakles was credited with founding in the honor of his father Zeus (king of the gods). According to tradition, Herakles imported white poplar from northwestern Greece, and it was the only wood used to fuel the altars at Olympia. Statues like this were extremely popular, commonly appearing in Greek and Roman gymnasiums where athletes trained.


Lansdowne Herakles HS3857


Lansdowne Herakles HS3868

The Lansdowne Herakles, Roman, c. 125 AD, marble.

The Lansdowne Herakles dominates the new shrine-like Temple of Herakles in the Getty Villa.

The Lansdowne Herakles was one of J. Paul Getty’s most prized possessions, and was his inspiration for redesigning the the original museum at Pacific Palisades as a Roman Villa. Purchased in 1792 by William Petty, First Marquess of Lansdowne, who was Prime Minister of Great Britain at the end of the Revolutionary War, the statue resided at Lansdowne House until the 1930s, when it was moved to their country estate. In 1951, J. Paul Getty purchased this statue along with Leda and the Swan, acquiring the Herakles for the spectacularly low price of $18,500 (6000 pounds).

Unearthed at Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli in 1790, this Roman copy combines elements of several different styles. The head is adorned with a simple fillet, and most scholars consider it to be a Hadrianic copy of a 4th century BC Greek original associated with the style of Skopas (or Scopas, 395-350 BC), a successor of the Classical sculptor Polykleitos who worked with Praxiteles and Lysippos. He is most famous for his lost bronze statue of Meleager, the copper Aphrodite, and the head of Hygieia. Skopas sculpted parts of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus including the reliefs, and was one of the first Greek sculptors to introduce powerful emotional expressions in the faces of his sculptures. Skopas is considered to be one of the three greatest sculptors of his age. The pose of the Lansdowne Herakles is more in the style of Polykleitos’ Doryphoros (spear-bearer), which was an early example of contrapposto (standing with the weight on one foot, with the shoulders and arms twisted off-axis). The Doryphoros was a 5th century (c. 440 BC) bronze which has been lost, but there are many Roman copies of varying quality. The pose of the Lansdown Herakles is nearly identical, although the head is turned to the left rather than the right, and there is a clear similarity.


Lansdowne Herakles HS3878


Lansdowne Herakles HS3883

Detail of the head of the Lansdowne Herakles. The head is somewhat shorter and smaller than Golden Age
sculptures, although the brow and forehead, temples, cheeks and the bridge of the nose are somewhat wider,
and the chin is more pointed, making the overall presentation quite different from typical Golden Age sculptures.


Lansdowne Herakles 1627

This image and the following one were taken at the Getty Center, before the sculpture was moved to the Villa.

The pose of the head, which is turned partially towards the left looking alertly over the raised club, contrasts with the Golden Age pose, creating tension along with an elegance and grace more characteristic of 4th century BC sculpture. The legs are longer than 5th c. sculptures of this type, and the neck, shoulders and torso are shorter and more massive. Many scholars have linked the Lansdowne Herakles with Skopas, a master of the heroic sculpture and pathos. After excavation of the Temple of Athena Alea, similarities were noted between pedimental heads and the Herakles. Skopas was the temple architect, and made the cult sculptures and other similar works. There have been other attributions for the original artist, and it is still a mystery.


Lansdowne Herakles 3036c

The Lansdowne Herakles, which J. Paul Getty considered to be the most important antiquity in his museum.

When the statue was originally unearthed, it was missing its left arm, the tip of its nose, the left calf, and other small parts such as fingers and thumbs, etc. Restorations were completed at that time, most likely by Carlo Albacini (a pupil of Bartolomeo Cavaceppi, see Caracalla, Getty Modern Sculptures). Albacini was principal restorer for Thomas Jenkins, art dealer and banker for the English on the Grand Tour in Rome, who bought the fragments soon after they were unearthed and sold the restored sculpture to Lord Lansdowne. In the late 1970s, it was determined that iron rods used in this restoration were developing rust and there was risk of splitting the marble, so the restorations were removed along with the metal pins, and the 18th century restorations were replaced with epoxy casts. These 18th century restorations were reintegrated with the sculpture in the 1990s.


Mazarin Venus 3063


Mazarin Venus HS9141

Statue of Venus (the Mazarin Venus), Roman, Rome, 100-200 AD, marble.

Venus, the goddess of love, stands nude, grasping a piece of cloth around her hips. The dolphin at her feet supports the figure and alludes to the goddess's birth from the sea. This depiction of Venus ultimately derived from an extremely popular Greek statue created by the sculptor Praxiteles about 350 BC, the Aphrodite of Knidos (aka the Venus Pudica, or modest Venus), the first full-scale female nude in Greek sculpture. Indeed Praxiteles' statue was so popular that, beginning around 100 BC, many artists created variations on his theme of the naked Venus.

This statue is a Roman reproduction of one of those Hellenistic variants. In 1509 it was discovered in Rome, where it contributed to the Renaissance revival of the Classical tradition. Formerly in the Cook Collection in England, scholars once believed that this statue was owned by Cardinal Mazarin, advisor to Louis XIV, king of France. Although this is unlikely, the statue is still known to many as the Mazarin Venus. It was bought by J. Paul Getty in 1954 as the first antiquity acquired specifically for his new museum.


Mazarin Venus 2107

According to Pliny, Praxiteles received a commission for a statue of the goddess Aphrodite from the citizens of Kos (a Greek Dodecanese island near the coast of the region of Caria, just west of modern Turkey). Praxiteles created two versions, one fully draped and the other completely nude. The shocked citizens of Kos rejected the nude sculpture and accepted the draped version. The design and appearance of the draped sculpture is unknown as it did not survive, nor did it appear to have merited attention as there were no surviving descriptions. The rejected nude was purchased by citizens from Knidos (an ancient Greek city in the region of Caria, very close to Kos), and set up in an open air temple which allowed the sculpture to be viewed from all sides. The Aphrodite of Knidos rapidly became one of the most famous works of Praxiteles, who allegedly used his lover, the famous 4th century BC courtesan Phryne, as a model for the statue (according to the ancient gossip).

During its long history, the statue has been heavily damaged. The breasts, as well as parts of the cloth, arms, and dolphin, are restored. The head probably belonged to another ancient statue. Marks on the back of the statue have been interpreted as gunshot wounds suffered during the French Revolution, although this story may be based more in romance than in fact.

The original Aphrodite of Knidos, from which this statue derived, became a tourist attraction for Knidos in spite of being a cult image. King Nicomedes I of Bithynia came from far away in the northeast of Asia Minor to see the statue, and was so enthralled that he offered to pay off the enormous debts of the city of Knidos in exchange for the statue, but the Knidians rejected his offer. The sculpture was so strongly associated with Knidos that its likeness was on coins. The original has not survived, but it was one of the most widely copied statues in the ancient world, with direct copies and derivatives like the Mazarin Venus. Probably the most faithful replica is the Colonna Venus in the Museo Pio-Clementino, part of the collections of the Vatican Museums.


Satyr Pouring Wine HS3873

Satyr Pouring Wine, Roman, 1st century AD, marble.

The pointed animal-like ears of this youth identify him as a satyr, companion of Dionysus (or Bacchus), the god of wine. Satyrs were part-human, part-goat (or part-horse, depending on whether the art is Roman or Greek). Found near Castel Gandolfo, Italy at the site of an ancient villa belonging to Emperor Domitian in 1657, this 1st century Roman copy of a celebrated bronze statue by the famed 4th century BC Greek sculptor Praxiteles was one of four nearly identical statues depicting a young satyr holding a pitcher of wine in his raised right hand, pouring the wine into a cup in his left hand. When the statues were found, the other three were in a better state of preservation. This satyr was missing its head, as well as the pitcher in its raised right hand and the left hand and cup. A late 17th century restorer (probably Ercole Boselli) made a copy of another satyr sculpture’s head and right hand to restore this statue.

The statue was acquired by Prince Agostino Chigi in Rome, where it remained until the Chigi Collection was purchased in 1728 by Frederick Augustus I, King of Poland. Along with the rest of the collection, it then went to Dresden for display. After Germany reunited, restitution was made to the Royal Saxon family in 1999, and this statue was returned among other works of art. The family decided to sell some of the art collection, and this statue was purchased by the Getty.


Leda and the Swan HS3891


Leda and the Swan HS3895

Leda and the Swan, Roman, 1-100 AD, Pentelic marble.

Found in 1775 in the Villa Magnani on the Palatine Hill in Rome, this is a 1st century AD Roman copy of a 4th century BC Greek sculpture attributed to Timotheus, a rival and contemporary of Scopas of Paros. The contrast of the clinging transparent drapery on Leda's torso, especially over her left breast, and the heavy folds of cloth bunched between her legs characterizes Timotheos' style. The statue both conceals and reveals the female body, a tension often found in 4th century BC sculpture before actual female nudity became acceptable.

Leda, the Queen of Sparta, protects a swan from the predation of the Eagle of Zeus by shielding it with her cloak. As per Euripides (one of the three great tragedians of 5th century BC Athens), Zeus admired Leda and turned himself into a swan, sending his eagle to make Leda protective of him as he dove into her arms. Zeus later seduced Leda on the same night as she lay with her husband Tyndareus, resulting in two pairs of twins: Helen and Polydeuces (Pollux), and Castor and Clytemnestra. Helen and Polydeuces were the offspring of Zeus, and Castor and Clytemnestra were the offspring of Tyndareus. Helen, known later as Helen of Troy, became the wife of King Menelaus of Mycenaean Sparta, whose abduction by Paris led to the Trojan War. Clytemnestra was the wife of King Agamemnon of Mycenae near Argos. Agamamnon and his brother Menelaus were both in exile at the court of Tyndareus. Eventually, the brothers married the two daughters of Tyndareus. Castor and Pollux (the Dioskouri or Gemini Twins) were excellent horsemen who participated in the hunting of the Calydonian Boar and later joined Jason's Argo to hunt the Golden Fleece. Later, Pollux gave half his immortality to his dying brother Castor and they became the two brightest stars in the constellation Gemini. (See the Rome section, Roman Forum and Capitoline Hill pages).


Leda and the Swan 1647

An image taken at the Getty Center before the statue was moved to the Getty Villa.

In 1951, J. Paul Getty purchased Leda and the Swan from the Lansdowne family country estate at Bowood for the astounding price of 500 pounds ($1540, plus a 10% commission to their broker) at the same time as the Lansdowne Herakles. The Lansdowne Leda is an outstanding representative of a popular sculptural style in early Imperial Rome. More than two dozen copies of this statue survive, attesting to the theme's popularity among the Romans.

Leda and the Swan has been extensively restored. Ancient restorations included work on Leda's face and hair. 18th century restorations included both arms and major portions of the raised cloak, the lower drapery and the neck of the Swan. The statue was de-restored and reconstructed/restored in 1997 under Getty conservators, including rebuilding the right thumb and big toe.


Marbury Hall Zeus HS4114


Marbury Hall Zeus 1646

Marbury Hall Zeus, Roman, Italy, 1-100 AD, marble.

Portrayed as a powerfully built, bearded man seated on his throne, the King of the Olympian gods originally held his scepter in his left hand and a thunderbolt in his right, the symbols of authority over the natural world. This Roman statue dates to the first century AD, but certain stylistic features in the carving, especially in the face and hair, reveal that it reproduces an earlier Hellenistic Greek statue. The Hellenistic sculpture that this Roman sculpture derived from was made by a school of sculptors based in the city of Pergamon in the 100s BC. It was inspired by the monumental gold and ivory statue of Zeus which was created by the Greek Sculptor Pheidias in the 5th century BC for the temple at Olympia, as was the Enthroned Zeus statuette shown below. The Olympian Zeus by Pheidias was considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was praised by ancient writers and widely reproduced.

After this statue was found in Tivoli, near Hadrian's Villa (where many statues and much of the marble for the Villa d’Este were acquired), it was placed above the Fountain of the Dragons at the entrance to the Villa d’Este gardens, as documented in a 1570s plate by GianFrancesco Venturini, the only existing documentation of the fountains in their days of glory, (which was reproduced in a 1908 treatise "The Villa d'Este at Tivoli" by Thomas Ashby). The statue was purchased in 1778 and eventually sold to James Hugh Smith Barry, who took it to Belmont Hall to join his spectacular collection of statues. After Barry’s death, the collection was moved to Marbury Hall where it remained until 1932, and from which the Marbury Hall Zeus got its present name.


Enthroned Zeus HS3767

Enthroned Zeus, Greek, c. 100 BC, marble.

In about 430 BC, the sculptor Pheidias created a colossal, forty-foot tall, gold and ivory statue of Zeus for the temple of Zeus at Olympia, one of the most important religious sanctuaries in the Greek world. Pheidias's cult statue later came to be considered one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The sculptor of this marble statuette was strongly influenced by that famous image. Zeus, the king of the gods, sits on an elaborately ornamented, high-backed throne with his feet on a footstool. His cloak is wrapped about his body in a manner that leaves his powerful chest exposed. His raised right hand would probably have held a scepter and his left hand a thunderbolt. This 29 inch statuette may have served as a cult statue in a private shrine of a wealthy Greek or Roman home. As the marine incrustations indicate, this statuette spent a long period of time submerged in the sea. The unmarred left side of the sculpture was probably buried in the sand and was thus protected.


Enthroned Zeus HS3800


Enthroned Zeus HS3796

Detail of the half life-size head of the Enthroned Zeus, showing the difference in color and encrustation on each side.


Muse HS3783


Muse HS3781

Muse, Roman, c. 200 AD, marble, pigment, and gold

A young woman wearing a long robe and wrapped in a mantle leans forward, resting her elbow on a tall rocky support. She represents a Muse, one of the goddesses of the arts and learning. Scholars identify this leaning figure as Polyhymnia, the Muse of the art of mime. The statue was part of a group of Muses and other deities that probably decorated a building devoted to the worship of a Roman emperor.

Traces of paint on the woman's eyes, hair, and her rocky support show that the statue was originally enlivened with color. The form of the statue's base allows scholars to reconstruct how it was displayed: its flattened back indicates that the statuette was probably placed in a niche or against a wall. The head was broken off in antiquity and reattached.


Muse HS3772


Muse HS3789

Muse, Roman, c. 200 AD, marble, pigment, and gold

This young woman wears a long robe, and her lower body is wrapped in a mantle with one end rolled and drawn up over her shoulder. She represents a Muse, one of the goddesses of learning and the arts. The statue was part of a group of Muses and other deities that probably decorated a building devoted to the cult of the Roman emperor. Traces of paint on the hair, eyes, and lips show that the statue was originally brightly painted. The statue's roughly finished back indicates that it stood in a niche.

In Roman art, the individual Muses were originally identified by the attributes they held. In this case, however, the arms of the statue and any attributes she held are gone. Yet, because Roman sculptors commonly produced numerous replicas of popular statues, badly damaged works can often be identified. Scholars have conventionally interpreted statues that match this one in details of clothing and stance as Klio, the Muse of history.


Bear HS3554

Bear, Roman, 100-125 AD, marble.

A bear climbs a rocky slope in this life-size Roman statue. The rocky landscape here implies that the animal is in the wild. The statue originally may have been part of a group scene depicting a hunt (there are two sculptures of hunting dogs associated with this bear). Although they do appear in Roman art, bears are rare in large-scale Roman sculpture.

Native to Italy and to most other parts of the Roman Empire, including Asia Minor and Africa, bears were a part of life in the Roman world. They were hunted for sport in the wild, captured live, and then killed in staged hunts that were part of elaborate civic spectacles. They were also occasionally kept as exotic pets. Bear hunting as a sport was the province of the nobility and under the influence of the Emperor Hadrian's enthusiasm, its popularity increased. The symbolism of the hunt emphasized strength and bravery; the fierceness and nobility of this beast asserted the courage and power of the man able to slay him.


Elgin Kore HS3988


Faustina the Elder HS3578

Young Woman (The Elgin Kore), Greek, c. 475 BC, Parian marble.

The Greek kore statue depicts a standing or striding woman — it is the female equivalent of a kouros. Both the kore and kouros were usually a religious dedication or funerary monument. This kore steps forward with her right leg and wears a peplos, a one piece woolen garment belted at the waist and pinned at the shoulders. The now missing right hand pulls the peplos to one side, revealing the contour of the right thigh. This was typical of the kore statue type, where one hand was extended with an offering to the gods and the other held the fabric of the dress below the waist. In the 5th century BC, statues of women were usually shown draped, while men were depicted nude. Sculptors of korai focused much attention on capturing the interplay of the fabric folds over the underlying body.

One of J. Paul Getty's first important purchases of antiquities in the early 1950s, this kore was once owned by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin (Lord Elgin), who is best known for removing much of the sculptural decoration from the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens (the Elgin Marbles) and shipping them to England, where they are now displayed in the British Museum. His justification was to save them from the continuing depredations of the Ottoman Turks, but he used them to decorate his mansion in Scotland until he sold them at a loss to Great Britain to offset debt.

Faustina the Elder, Roman, Asia Minor, 140-160 AD, marble.

Annia Galeria Faustina was the wife of Emperor Antoninus Pius of Rome (reigned 137-161 AD). They married about 110 AD and had a loving marriage (unlike many in the Imperial family). They had four children. When she died in 141, Antoninus Pius declared her divine and erected a temple in her honor in the Roman Forum (see the Rome section). He never remarried.

This over life-size statue, sculpted in Asia Minor, uses the head as a portrait of Faustina while the body is a Classical 4th century BC type called the Large Herculaneum Woman. The statue and head were carved from the same block of marble, and the sculptor left a large lump of unworked marble at the nape of the neck to protect against breakage, a technique unique to Asia Minor workshops. The head is a repetition of a standard type used for the Empress Faustina. The statue was probably a part of a large group which included other members of the Imperial Family, and may have occupied a public square or a temple dedicated to the Divine Faustina, such as the one in the Roman Forum.

The original nose and chin of this sculpture were broken off in ancient times. An early restorer of this sculpture cut off damaged marble to create flat surfaces and drilled holes to attach a new marble nose and chin. Those were at some point lost or destroyed, and were replaced with plaster. These plaster restorations were removed by Getty restorers and a new nose and chin were constructed of acrylic resin. Some have said that the nose is a little overwhelming and quite unlike the Capitoline bust of Faustina, considered likely to be the most faithful portrait since it was found in the villa of her husband, Antoninus Pius.


Nemesis HS3805

Statuette of Nemesis with Portrait resembling the Empress Faustina I, Roman, Egypt, c. 150 AD, marble.

Roman portraits often resembled figures from mythology, with men preferring Mars and women preferring Venus. Sounds like the title of a book... Often, this resulted in an idealized body with a less than ideal face. In this case, this highly sophisticated statuette shows a strong resemblance to Empress Faustina the Elder, wife or the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius (who reigned from 138-161 AD). Although the line of the jaw is more taut and the neck more slender than most typical representations of Faustina I (see the image above), the hairstyle and aspects of the features strongly resemble the Empress. Carved from an imperfect block of large-grained marble with dark inclusions (probably from the Greek islands), it was most likely carved in Egypt, as the lack of marble in Egypt forced artists to import marble which would have been rejected elsewhere in the Empire. The sculpture came from the Dattari collection in Alexandria, further confirming the Egyptian source.

The statuette is fully carved in back, and the wings were carved in the round as well. The statuette was most likely displayed free standing (rather than in a niche), probably in a shrine for the Imperial cult (the worship of the Emperor). Nemesis wears a belted peplos and military boots. With her left hand, Nemesis holds the Wheel of Fortune, symbolizing her influence over Destiny. The Wheel rests on the globe of the Cosmos, which itself stands on an altar. Nemesis rests her right foot on the head of a miniature conquered transgressor, whose scale is consistent with the tradition of second century AD iconography which shrank the scale of captives and conquered figures. The military character links the figure to the goddess Roma (see the Rome section), which reinforces Faustina's role as protectress of the Empire.


Bust of a Woman HS3581


Bust of a Woman HS4036

Bust of a Woman, Roman, Rome, 150-160 AD, marble.

This elegant portrait bust is of an unidentified Roman woman, carved from a single superbly finished block of Carrara marble. Her hairstyle copies one used by Empress Faustina, and the highly polished surface is consistent with an Antonine creation date. The undulating waves of hair surrounding the face were typical of portraits of her daughter, Faustina the Younger. The woman wears a stola (a loose-fitting tunic) fastened by a brooch on the right shoulder and a palla (a rectangular shawl), and the woman appears to be of mature years yet she displays no signs of aging. Roman portraits of women tended to be more idealized and less individualized than those of men. Roman portraits of women were often focused more on depicting the latest fashions and concepts of beauty than actual features of the subject.


Bust of a Woman 3741

A closeup taken at the Getty Center before the bust was moved to the Villa.
Note the fine detail of the hair and the highly polished surface of the marble.


Julia Titi HS3587


Julia Titi HS3586

Head of Julia Titi, Roman, Italy, c. 90 AD, marble and pigment.

Julia Titi, daughter of the Flavian Emperor Titus from his second marriage to Marcia Furnilla, daughter of the Roman Senator Quintus Marcius Barea Sura (who was a friend of Emperor Vespasian, Titus' father... connections were important in those days too, although Titus and Marcia divorced a year after Julia was born due to Marcia's family's links to a failed conspiracy against Nero). Julia died at the age of 27 (from a rumored forced abortion, although that is unlikely). This portrait shows her as she looked at about that time. Julia is reflected in historical sources as a rather outspoken and liberated woman for the time. She was offered in marriage to her uncle Domitian (at the tender age of six), who refused because of an infatuation with Domitia Longina (Vespasian convinced her husband to divorce Domitia so he could marry her). Later, Julia married her second paternal cousin. By then, Domitian had seduced her. When both Titus and her husband died, Julia moved in with Vespasian openly. She received the honor of having her image struck on coins, which are the identification source for her sculptural portraits. This head does not perfectly match the portraits on the coins, and the quality of the sculpture is far superior to most Imperial portraits, but the ID is apparently secure. This may have been a posthumous portrait, as Julia Titi died in 91 AD.

Purchased by J. Paul Getty in 1955 for the staggeringly low sum of $3300, this intricately carved portrait head of Flavia Julia Titi depicts the daughter of Emperor Titus with an elaborate curled, superbly rendered hairstyle, deeply drilled into the marble. Hours must have been spent with a hairdresser to create this coiffure. The sculptor created exceptional contrast between the hair and the smoothly modeled forehead and face. The irises and pupils were originally painted, as were the lips and hair. Some pigment is still visible in the hair.

Portraits of Imperial women set fashions throughout the Roman Empire. A haristyle worn by an Empress or Princess would soon show up in portraits of other women in the Court, and then spread throughout Roman society. Elaborately curled hairstyles like this became highly fashionable during the Flavian period.


Herm of Hermes HS3718

Herm of Hermes (detail of head), Roman, 50-100 AD, marble.

A Herm (Herma) is a sculpture of a head (and sometimes a torso) atop a plain, generally square lower pillar on which genitalia are sometimes carved. The form originated in ancient Greece when divinities were worshipped at crossroads and at the borders of land. They started out as a pile of stones, eventually adding a head and phallus to the column, which became square in cross-section (the number four was sacred to Hermes). Before his role as a transitional god, protector of merchants and travelers, Hermes was a phallic god associated with fertility, luck, roads and borders. Hermes name derives from the herma.

This Roman sculpture is a copy of a famous herm called the Hermes Propylaeus (Propylaea = monumental gateway), which was carved by the Greek sculptor Alkamenes in the 5th century BC and located at the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens. Alkamenes carved the herm in an Archaistic style, combining contemporary facial features with an Archaic (6th c. BC) beard and hairstyle. Herms were often carved in an Archaistic style to give them an air of ancient sanctity. During Roman times, the herm lost its religious significance and became a garden and courtyard ornament.


Bust of a Boy named Martial HS3615


Bust of a Youth HS3689

Bust of Boy Named Martial, Roman, 98-117 AD, marble.

The inscription on this bust reads, "Dearest Martial, a slave child, who lived two years, ten months, and eight days." Martial's owner must have been fond of him, since he commissioned this portrait at some expense. The hairstyle resembles that of Emperor Trajan (ruled 98-117 AD), providing the date for this portrait. Dedicated as a funerary monument, the sculpture portrays a very young slave child who, according to the inscription, died before attaining the age of three. It is possible that the dedicator is the same individual known from other inscriptional evidence. The boy's hair is braided into a lock of Horus behind and above the right ear.

Bust of a Youth, Greek, Tarentum (Taras), South Italy, c. 400 BC, terracotta.

Broken from a statue of a reclining youth, this terracotta bust probably represents a reveler at a symposion. His short hair is brushed forward from the crown of his head. The figure's bare chest indicates that he was either nude or (more likely) half clothed with a cloak wrapped around his lower body.


Fragment of a Female Head HS3684

Protome of a Female Figure, Greek, Tarentum (Taras), South Italy, 440-430 BC, terracotta.

Even though only a fragment of this head remains, it shows the high level of skill of the sculptors. Both the upper and lower eyelids are carefuly detailed, and the lips are full and sensuous. These elements are characteristic of the naturalistic style of sculpture executed during the Classical period (480-323 BC).


Poet as Orpheus with Two Sirens 1626

Poet as Orpheus with Two Sirens, Greek, Taras, South Italy, c. 350-300 BC, terracotta and pigment.

A seated man is flanked by sirens, creatures part bird and part woman, in this nearly life-size terracotta group. In Greek mythology, the singing of the sirens lured sailors to their deaths; thus the creatures have general funerary connotations. The Sirens, with bird legs and feet, stand on a rock-like base, representing their islands. One Siren, her chin on her hand, appears to be listening, while the other sings, her lips parted and her arms in a theatrical pose. The seated man is also a singer, as is shown by his open mouth, the plektron in his right hand, and the now-missing lyre or harp which he once cradled in his left arm.

His precise identity is uncertain. He is often identified as Orpheus, who was famous for his singing and music, and whose cult was widespread in the south of Italy, in the area where the Sirens were supposedly luring mariners to their deaths, but in the art of this period, Orpheus is usually shown wearing a specific Eastern costume, which is not seen on this sculpture. Sirens are often found in funerary contexts as figures who sing to mourn the dead, or help to fulfill the promise of life after death. It is possible that this man may just be an ordinary mortal, perhaps the deceased, in the guise of a poet or singer.


Poet as Orpheus HS3823


Poet as Orpheus HS3829

Orpheus was a legendary musician, poet and prophet in ancient Thracian myths (Thrace was north-east of Greece and north of the Kingdom of Macedon, the first Greek colonies in Thrace were founded in the 8th century BC). The major stories about Orpheus (Orphei or Arpha) had him playing a harp (the name for the instrument harp was derived from the latter version of his name), but some myths had him playing a lyre. He was supposedly able to charm all living things (and even stones) with his music, and his attempt to retrieve his wife Eurydice (either an Oak nymph or a daughter of Apollo) from the underworld was almost successful as he was able to charm Hades and Persephone with his music, but he was not supposed to look at her until she left the underworld. He walked in front and didn't look back until he was out, but when he did, she was just behind the threshold, and she vanished back to the underworld. Lots of other stories exist, but the one relevant to the sculpture is from the story of Jason and the Argonauts, and the Quest for the Golden Fleece.

According to myth, the half-human, half-bird Sirens used their sweet, seductive songs to lure sailors to their deaths on the rocky shore of their islands (the Sirenum Scopuli) somewhere in the south of Italy, sometimes identified as Anthemossa in other versions of the myth. These islands have also sometimes been identified as Ischia, Procida and Capri in the Tyrhennian Sea at the Gulf of Naples, near the ankle of the boot of Italy. Jason, leader of the Argonauts, had been warned by Chiron (the centaur and teacher who was later killed by Herakles in exchange for Zeus allowing Herakles to save Prometheus and acquire Fire for humanity) that the singer and poet Orpheus would be necessary for his return journey. When Orpheus heard the Sirens, he took out his lyre, playing music and singing so beautifully that he drowned out the bewitching voices of the Sirens.


Poet as Orpheus 3642

Originally brightly painted, this large-scale terracotta sculpture is characteristic of the Greek colonies in South Italy. With its funerary imagery, the group may have decorated a tomb. Although terracotta sculpture is also found in mainland Greece, artists in the Greek colonies in South Italy used this medium with greater frequency and on a larger scale because there were few sources of good stone suitable for sculpting.

The two center images with the red-orange background were taken at the Getty Villa.
The first and last image, taken at the Getty Center, were added to this page for context.


Victorious Youth HS3642


Victorious Youth HS3648

Victorious Youth (Fano Athlete, Getty Bronze), Greek, attributed to Lysippos, 300-100 BC, bronze.

Standing in a relaxed pose and reaching towards the traditional olive wreath of the victorious Olympian athlete, this nude youth is a one of few existing examples of large-scale bronze Greek statuary. Thousands of these votive and commemorative statues adorned public and private spaces of cities and sanctuaries, but only a tiny fraction of these have survived.

The Victorious Youth was cast using the lost-wax process. The statue is wreathed, and probably commemorated an athetic triumph at Olympia, where the olive wreath was given as a prize, and it may have stood in the Olympian sanctuary or in the athlete's home town. The head was cast separately from the body, and the eyes were once inlaid (probably with bone or ivory with a stone or glass iris and pupil). The statue was cast in four separate pieces: head, arms, and the body with legs, and the pieces were welded together. The nipples are made of contrasting copper. The left hand is partially closed, and may have originally held a palm branch.

The sculpture was attributed to Lysippos by scholars just after the Getty acquired it in 1977, but as there are no incontrovertible originals by Lysippos, it was later determined that Lysippos may have been a possible inspiration for statues of this type. Recently, very few scholars insist that the bronze is an original by Lysippos. Some scholars have identified the statue as a youthful successor to Alexander the Great, and most scolars now describe the statue as "Lysippan or post-Lysippan".


Victorious Youth HS3655

The Victorious Youth was heavily encrusted with marine deposits when it was recovered from the Adriatic sea, where it had been lost while in transit in antiquity. It was not new when shipped, and the feet and ankles most likely had been broken off when the statue was removed rom its base in antiquity. Before the Getty acquired the sculpture, a crude attempt was made to remove the encrustation and the arms were damaged. Later, when the statue was in Germany, the statue was professionally cleaned and the bronze was stabilized and covered with a clear coat before the Getty acquired it.


Victorious Youth HS3657

The Victorious Youth was part of an ancient shipwreck, which saved it from being melted down like all but a tiny fraction of Greek bronzes. It was found in international waters off the Adriatic coast of Fano, Italy in 1964, snagged in the nets of a fishing trawler. Although the statue was discovered in international waters and Italian court cases in the late 1960s, 1970, and 2007 determined that the statue was not Italian property (it was never in Italy except when it was hidden just after it was found, and no evidence exists that it had anything to do with early Roman or Etruscan people), the Italian authorities were livid that the statue was hidden from them after it was found, and smuggled out of Italy before being sold to the Getty. A new court case was filed recently which baffles both the Getty and experts. The Italian regional magistrate ruled that the Getty must return the statue to Italy in a decision which had no legal precedent, and the controversy is ongoing.


Statuette of a Woman HS3728

Statuette of a Woman, Late Hellenistic Greek (eastern Mediterranean), 1st century BC, Parian marble.

This statuette of a draped female figure stands in a graceful pose and probably represents Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who was often identified by the folds in her neck called "Venus rings" which were a sign of beauty in antiquity. The statuette wears a gathered chiton of thin material, belted high under the breasts, which is sewn to a neckband that has slipped off of her right shoulder. Her left hand holds at her hip a voluminous mantle which is wound around her waist. The ends of the heavy mantle fall in zigzag folds. The narrow shoulders, broad hips, hairstyle and drapery patterns are typically late Hellenistic in style.


Aphrodite Leaning on a Pillar HS3724


Aphrodite HS3746

Statuette of Aphrodite Leaning on a Pillar, Greek, Tanagra, 250-200 BC, terracotta with polychromy.

Aphrodite (goddess of love) leans on a pillar wearing a wreath of flowers and a cloak draped around her hips. The goddess's pose is based on an earlier clothed statue of Aphrodite made by the sculptor Pheidias in the 5th century BC. In accordance with later Hellenistic tastes, the terracotta artist chose to depict her semi-nude to emphasize her sensuality. Aphrodite's outstretched left hand originally held an offering, probably either a dove or an offering bowl. The figurine, originally brightly painted, still bears traces of red paint. The city of Tanagra in northern Greece was a leading producer of small terracotta figurines, which were exceedingly popular in 300-200 BC. Women, especially elaborately and stylishly dressed women, were the favorite subject matter, but the figurines also often portray handsome youths, children, and Eros, the winged young god of love.

Statuette of Aphrodite, Hellenistic Greek, 200-150 BC, bronze.

The apple held in the left hand is an attribute of Aphrodite, but the fashionable clothing and the crescent-shaped stephane decorated with foliate scrolls suggest that a real woman, possibly Queen Apollonis of Pergamon, is depicted as Aphrodite. The stephane was a crown-like headpiece in the shape of a metal arc which extended down behind the ears, worn by ancient Greek and Roman aristocrats to avoid damaging their elaborate hairstyle with a hat. Queen Apollonis, who was contemporary with this statuette, was depicted in a fragmentary statue wearing a very similar stephane. The woman is increasing her stature by wearing platform thong sandals with a notch between the big toe and the others, a style which was at the height of fashion in the early second century BC.

The hairstyle (rolled back from the face in wings and drawn behind the head) is High Hellenistic in style, and the statuette is dressed in the clinging, transparent mantle fashionable in late Hellenistic art, but the statuette is dated to the first half of the second century BC as after that, robust body types gave way to more slender, elongated figures with narrower shoulders, and the compositions changed from a powerful thrust and counterthrust to more gliding, elegant poses.


Statuette Guardian God with Spouted Horn HS3692


Etruscan Statuette dedicated to Lur HS3697

Statuette of a Guardian God with a Spouted Horn, Roman 200-300 AD, bronze.

This statuette (the Lar/Genius of Aurelius Valerius, a lar familiaris), was a household deity that protected members of a family to ensure their health and prosperity. Holding a goat-protome rhyton (a spouted horn drinking vessel) and a patera (offering dish), it would have been in the lararium, a small shrine found in every Roman house from the time of Augustus onward. The Lares, protective spirits who watched over the household, were originally gods of cultivated fields and were worshipped at crossroads. This statuette of a bushy-haired youth is dressed in a short tunic witha long sash or mantle knotted around his waist and draped over his arms. He wears tall, open-toed boots with animal-skin liners. The inscription on the base reads “to the Genius of Aurelius Valerius, praetorian soldier”. A genius was the protective spirit of a male person in the Latin-speaking world.

Statuette Inscribed with a Dedication to the God Lur, Etruscan, 300-280 BC, bronze.

Cast hollow over a partial core with nipples inlaid in copper, this bronze Etruscan statuette is barefoot and wears a short, semicircular mantle. The large head is more mature than the youthful body, which is posed with its weight on the left foot with the right leg relaxed and placed slightly to the side, imparting an S-shaped curve to the torso. Both arms are bent, with both large hands spread in a gesture of prayer. The facial expression, arrangment of the hair over the forehead, and twist of the head are inspired by portraits of Alexander the Great, who had died about a generation before the casting of this statue. The votive description on the mantle dedicates the statuette to Lur from Vel Matunas, a South Etruscan prince who apparently dedicated this statue of himself to the Fanum Voltumnae, the federal sanctuary of the 12 Etruscan cities near Orvieto.


Etruscan Statuette dedicated to Lur 3740


Two Roman Men Applique 3739

At left, an image of the Etruscan statuette dedicated to Lur descibed above, taken at the Getty Center in stronger light.

Applique with Two Men, Roman, 50-75 AD, bronze

Two men wearing togas and shoes identifying them as members of the upper class turn to look at something occurring to their right. The figures are clearly of different ages and show individualized, portrait-like features, making it probable that they were recognizable people. The older man carries a scroll, probably marking him as a priest, and the larger scene may have been some kind of sacrifice to the gods. Stylistic features of the hairstyles and clothing date the relief to the period of the Emperor Nero. The break on the piece to the right indicates that this is the remains of what was once a larger bronze relief frieze. It was found with the Statuette of a Goddess (probably Ceres) and the Statuette of Roma or Virtus (see below). These pieces may have all formed a group of relief sculpture serving as an applique decorating the same object. An applique is an ornament or device which is applied to another object or surface, in this case probably a chariot or a piece of furniture.


Statuette of a Goddess HS3740


Statuette of Roma or Virtus HS4165

Statuette of a Goddess (probably Ceres), Roman, 50-75 AD, bronze

Wearing a tunic and heavy cloak, this statuette is identified as a goddess by the shape of her diadem (ornamental headddress signifying sovereignty). The female figure's pose and dress are based upon the Greek Classical tradition. The figure is now missingthe attributes she held, which would have identified her, but the position of the hands indicates that she may have held a patera (offering dish) and a scepter or staff. A comparison with Roman coins indicates that she is most likely Ceres, the Goddess of Fertility, or Juno, the Goddess of Marriage. The back of the figure is only partially finished, and it has a large rectangualr hole for attachment to another object. It was reportedly found with the Applique of Two Men (see above) and the Statuette of Roma or Virtus, and these pieces may have formed a sculptural relief group serving as an applique decorating the same object (a chariot or a piece of furniture).

Statuette of Roma or Virtus, Roman, 50-75 AD, bronze

Wearing a helmet and a short tunic, this figure probably depicts a goddess. The figure's striding pose and the arrangement of her costume (which displays the right breast) were influenced by the Greek Classical tradition, drawing especially on Greek depictions of Amazons. The figure is now missing her attributes which would have securely identified her, but the position of her left hand clearly indicates that she held a spear. Her costume associates her with Roma, the personification of the city of Rome and the Roman Empire, but she might also be Virtus, the personification of valor. If she were Roma, her right hand would have held a miniature statue of Winged Victory. If she were Virtus, the right hand would have held a sword. A hole on the back of this figure shows where it originally was attached to another object.


Harpokrates Isis Isis-Fortuna HS3629

Statuette of Harpokrates, Roman, Egypt, 100-200 AD, bronze.

Harpokrates, the god of silence in Ptolemaic Greek mythology of Alexandria, was adapted from the Egyptian child-god Horus. The name is derived from the Egyptian Heru-pa-khered literally meaning Horus-the-child. In Egyptian mythology, Horus was conceived by Isis (the mother goddess) from Osiris, the original god-king of Egypt who had been murdered by his brother Set, thus becoming the god of the underworld. The Greeks melded Osiris with their god of the underworld Hades to become the Ptolemaic Serapis. Ptolemy I wanted to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm, and creating gods which were either a blending of the two cultures or integrating an Egyptian god into their culture was one method he used.

Statuette of Seated Isis with Infant Harpokrates, Roman, 100 BC to 100 AD, Steatite.

This is a headless statuette of Isis Lactans (Isis Breastfeeding), made of steatite (soapstone). Isis is seated on a chair with her son Harpokrates on her lap (only the left leg and right hand remain). With her missing left arm Isis would have been holding Harpokrates. Her right hand supports the left breast. She wears a himation over a chiton with open short sleeves, a typical Roman fashion. Her sandaled left foot rests on a small footstool. She is recognizable as Isis by the curly hair on her back and right shoulder, the "Isis knot" between her breasts, and the fringed cloak. An image of the god Horus is carved on the back of the chair in the shape of a falcon wearing the Egyptian double-crown.

Statuette of Isis-Fortuna, Roman, 100-200 AD, bronze.

The Egyptian goddess Isis was adopted into Roman religion in the first century A.D. Isis was an ancient goddess with a wide range of powers, including the ability to offer her followers a better afterlife. In Roman religion, Isis was often merged with other Roman goddesses, creating new composite deities. This statuette portrays Isis combined with Fortuna, a fertility goddess who controlled the fate of both individuals and cities. This statuette of Isis-Fortuna has attributes of each goddess. She wears the elaborate headdress of Isis (Crown of Hathor), a sun disk between horns or feathers, and the front of her long dress is tied in a knot on her chest, the so-called Isis knot. She also holds the usual attributes of Fortuna. The rudder in her right hand refers to her control over the course of human lives, and the cornucopia in her left arm is a symbol of abundance and prosperity.


Statuette of Athena Promachos HS3751


Statuette of a Woman HS3599

Statuette of Athena Promachos, Roman, c. 50 BC to 25 AD, bronze and silver.

Athena Promachos (First in Battle) strides forcefully forward, wearing a sleeved chiton and a long Archaic diagonal mantle with overfold, fastened on the right shoulder, with an aegis protecting her chest, shoulders and the entire back which bears a silver head of Medusa in the middle of the chest. A silver griffin crouches atop her Attic helmet (which has silver ornaments on the front and sides), and her eyes are embellished with silver, but the 20 silver snakes which decorated her aegis are missing. She once held a spear in the right hand and a shield in the left (these are also missing). The image was intentionally created in an Archaistic style, and derives from the Athena Promachos of Pheidias, a colossal bronze which stood near the Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens. The Athena Promachos was one of the  first recorded works of Pheidias, and was placed on the Acropolis in about 456 BC. It was made with Persian spoils of war from the Battle of Marathon. Parts of the original marble base remain, and from the inscription, it was 30 feet tall. Pheidias' statue stood for 1000 years, until it was taken to Constantinople in about 465 AD as a trophy. It was destroyed by a superstitious mob in 1203 who thought she was beckoning to besieging Crusaders.

Statuette of a Woman, Greek (Argos), 460-450 BC, bronze.

This statuette of a maiden dressed in a peplos was likely used as a support for a thymiaterion (an incense burner for religious ceremonies) or a candelabrum. The distinctive pose is similar to that of a figure in a famous painting of the Nekiya (descent into the Underworld) by the Classical painter Polygnotos (active 475-447 BC). According to the Greek writer Pausanius, this painting showed Eriphyle reaching under her garment to finger the necklace she received from Polynices. The statue’s left arm reaches under the overfold to the neck, indicating that it most likely represents Eriphyle, who received the Necklace of Harmonia from Polynices for betraying her husband Amphiaraus, by convincing him to take part in the raid of the Seven Against Thebes even though she knew he would die. This figure probably derives from a monumental Classical original, but the treatment of the drapery on the peplos, the heavy features and lantern jaw, and the broad neck are typical of sculptures from Argos, and the pose with the right hand on the hip was introduced by sculptors from Argos. The head is covered by a sakkos, patterned with circles and zigzags. The stem at the top of the head is hollow for attachment of the thymiaterion or candelabrum.


Statuette of Tinia HS4181


Statuette of Jupiter HS4161

Statuette of a Bearded Man (probably Tinia), Etruscan, c. 480 BC, bronze.

Wearing a tebenna (the Etruscan precursor to the Roman toga) falling in zigzag folds down his arm and over his thighs, this bearded figure originally held an object in his left hand which was an identifying attribute. If the object was a trident, it was a representation of the Etruscan sea god Nethuns or the Greek counterpart Poseidon. If the object was a scepter (as the position of the arm suggests) then he would be identified as Tinia, the Etruscan equivalent to Zeus, king of the gods. This small bronze was probably a dedicatory offering left at a temple. The statue was reportedly found in Piombino, Italy. The rigid frontal pose and forward placement of the left leg recall the Archaic style of the Greek kouros, but the naturalistic torso and face exhibit the style of the early Classical period. The combination of sculptural styles is typical of Etruscan art.

Statuette of Jupiter, Gallo-Roman, 100-200 AD, bronze.

The design used for this statuette of Jupiter was over 500 years old when it was produced in the 2nd century AD, attesting to the longevity of some sculptural types throughout antiquity. The statuette was modeled after the life-size 4th century BC bronze statue of Zeus (Greek equivalent of the Roman god Jupiter) by the Athenian Greek sculptor Leochares called Zeus Brontaios (of thunder). Leochares' bronze statue of Zeus was taken to Rome in 22 BC (350 years after it was created) and installed as the cult statue in the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill, which had just been completed (see the Rome section). The original is now lost, but there are many copies of Leochares bronze remaining. Leochares, who worked on the Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), is often attributed as the creator of the original upon which the Apollo of Belvedere (Roman copy) at the Vatican Museum was based. His most famous portrait sculptures were those of Philip II of Macedon (father of Alexander), Alexander the Great, Amyntas II (father of Philip II), Olympias (mother of Alexander), and Eurydice I (mother of Philip II), all made of ivory and gold for the Philippeon at Olympia, which was erected by Philip II in celebration of a victory in the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, which was described as one of the most decisive battles of the ancient world, and ended the Macedonian campaign in Greece.

The statuette of Jupiter represents Jupiter Tonans (Jupiter the Thunderer), who once held a lightning bolt in his left hand and leaned on an upright scepter which was held in his missing left hand. The statue displays both Hellenistic Greek and Roman characteristics, including the exaggerated musculature and symmetrical beard and hair which imitates the Greek Archaic sculptural form. Many copies of this same Jupiter type survive, especially large statuettes in Roman Gaul, and complete versions carry the lightning bolt in the left hand. This statuette has a rather exaggerated pose and is more explicitly styled towards the Archaic than the typical  statuettes from this series. The torso is more slender, with well-defined abdominal muscles, long thighs and well-formed kneecaps. Other features evoke the Hellenistic style. The head is very different from those inspired more directly from 4th century BC original and is more like a 5th century BC sculture attributed to the workshop of Pheidias, whose ivory and gold statue of Zeus at Olympia was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The style is that of an older divinity, with a frame of center-parted locks on the forehead, similar to the type known as the Dresden Zeus which derived from Pheidias' sculpture. The long mustache with rolled ends is an Archaic feature (as is the wavy hair), and the beard is arranged in corkscrew curls.


Portrait Bust of a Youth HS3662


Portrait Bust of a Youth HS3663

Portrait Busts of Two Youths, Gallo-Roman, 60-70 AD, bronze.

These two bronze busts of slave boys were acquired in 1989. They were said to have been found as part of a cache of bronze objects, before World War II in a transalpine area in the eastern portion of France near the Swiss border. All of the bronze items in this cache were associated with the local Celto-Roman war god Mars Cobannus, possibly in the territory of the Sequani. These bronze busts are particularly interesting because of their unusual style, method and quality of manufacture, and the fact that busts of this quality were commissioned to represent slave boys.

The hairstyle is quite unusual. The hair is parted over the top of the head, from ear to ear, and brushed forward and to the back from the part, and separately fashioned long bronze locks (now missing) were attached at the hairline at the nape of the neck, indicating that these were a special type of slave boy. Slave boys like these were often called ‘delicati’ because of their beauty and youthful appearance,.and they were kept as their master’s cherished ‘pets’. The resemblance of the two busts indicates that these boys were likely related, although it may be that these were simply idealized portraits. Although these two busts are very similar, they were likely made by two different artisans. There are different bronze compositions as well as differences in the casting methods and the artistic approach. The right bust has an acanthus calyx attached to the lower part of the plastron. The left portrait is better preserved. These busts were both made using the lost-wax process, using two different molds.


Portrait of Youth Mars Cobannus HS3672


Statuette of Mars Cobannus HS3667

Statuette of Mars Cobannus, Gallo-Roman, 125-175 AD, bronze.

Also found as part of the bronze cache in France is this bronze of Mars Cobannus. The sculpture as it exists is composed of seven parts (head, helmet, body, hands and part of the forearms, legs). Some parts are missing (the left side of the torso under the cloak, the cheek-guards of the helmet, and the visor plate of the helmet). The area where the ears should be is blank (this was probably covered by the cheek-guards of the helmet). The figure wears a contemporary Roman helmet rather than the Classical Greek types more common in Roman sculpture. The figure can be dated by the style of this helmet.

The base bears the inscription: "Sacred to the venerable god Cobannus, Lucius Maccius Aeternus, duumvir [dedicated this] in accordance with a vow". This is the first known inscription to Cobannus. The duumvir was one of the two chief magistrates of a Roman colony, thus this individual belonged to the highest level of provincial society.

The figure wears a long cloak, with the central front edge weighted so the material flows gracefully. Under the cloak, the figure wears a long-sleeved tunic with a fringed lower edge, close-fitting footed leggings and T-strap sandals. The long-sleeved tunic and leggings are Northern dress, and costume like this was used for other Gallic divinities, as well as the Dacian enemies of Rome depicted on Trajan's Column (see the Rome section). Roman soldiers wore short sleeved tunics and leggings that ended at the knees, thus this is a distinctly barbarian representation of Mars. The body language, however, is far from barbaric. The expression is relaxed and the pose is fluid and graceful. The right hand originally supported a standing spear, and a standing shield was supported with the left hand. The figure has youthful, idealized features and long wavy hair in the 'anastole' style made fashionable by Alexander the Great.


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