A Roman marble head of Paris
Lot 212
A Roman marble head of Paris
Sold for £60,000 (US$ 97,214) inc. premium

Lot Details
A Roman marble head of Paris A Roman marble head of Paris
A Roman marble head of Paris
Circa 2nd Centuty A.D.
The slender face gazing slightly downwards to the left, his eyelids clearly defined, the lips slightly parted, his corkscrew curled hair deeply carved with drilling and flowing down the back of his neck, wearing a conical Phrygian cap with characteristic top-knop, the side flaps tied neatly in a bow at the back over the long back flap, 11½in. (29.2cm.) high, mounted

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Acquired by the present owner in 1980, formerly in a French private collection.

    Literature:
    Cf. Paul Zanker, Klassizistische Statuen: Studien zur Veränderung des Kunstgeschmacks in der römischen Kaiserzeit (1974), Pl.82.

    Although various academics have studied this head and believe it to represent the head of Paris, others have suggested that it could be Mithras. Paris, the son of Priam of Troy, is often depicted in art as a handsome beardless youth wearing a Phrygian cap, as can be seen on the base of the Portland vase. However the examples of the head of Mithras in the British Museum and the Louvre, showing Mithras slaying a bull, his hair dressed in tight curls beneath a Phrygian cap are also exceptionally similar, cf. Pierre Amiet, Départment des antiquités orientales; Guide du visiteur , (Paris 1978), p.77. Mithras was the Persian god of the sun, who was introduced to Rome at the time of the Roman Emperors, his worship then spread throughout the Empire. He is commonly represented as an attractive youth wearing the Phyrgian cap and kneeling on a bull, whilst cutting its throat, accompanied by a hound, serpent and scorpion.

    Alternatively Ganymedes is another contender, as he too is sometimes depicted wearing a Phyrgian cap - famed also for his beauty, the son of Tros, the legendary King of Troy, was carried off by Zeus to be his cup-bearer and live amongst the gods. For an example of Ganymedes, cf. L. Budde & R. Nichols, A Catalogue of Greek and Roman Sculpture in teh Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge, (Cambridge 1964), no. 54, pl.16, p.30.
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