A Greek marble bust of a goddess
Lot 40W
A Greek marble bust of a goddess
Sold for £109,250 (US$ 183,629) inc. premium
Auction Details
A Greek marble bust of a goddess
Lot Details
A Greek marble bust of a goddess
Hellenistic Period, circa 3rd Century B.C.
Depicted with her head inclined to the left, her oval face with sensitively carved features, her deep-set lidded eyes with original inlaid marble eyes remaining, her browline merging with the bridge of her nose, her small mouth with full lips, a thin fillet in her wavy hair, centrally-parted and secured at the back in a chignon, a small drilled hole in the top of her head possibly for insertion of a separately-made stephane or attribute, her slender neck with naturalistic contours flaring outward toward the chest, her left shoulder slightly dipped, the edges of her drapery carved in relief around the base of her neck, the deep 'v' of her chest ending for insertion into a draped body, a notch in the left side of the bust presumably for such purpose, 14in (35.6cm) high, mounted


  • Provenance:
    Property of a Private Trust.
    Swiss private collection, Ticino, since 1938.

    This bust owes its sense of serene divinity to the Praxitelean type of the 4th Century B.C., characterised by the softly curving features and wavy hair of the Aphrodite of Knidos. For a related Aphrodite head from Kos, also of the 3rd Century B.C. which demonstrates the softly moulded facial features of this period, cf. M. Bieber, The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age, New York, 1955, fig. 32.

    However, the identity of the goddess is by no means certain and in fact the facial proportions of this bust appear more slender than usually found in depictions of Aphrodite of this period, recalling contemporary representations of the goddess Artemis instead. Indeed, the drapery at the neck show that this bust was intended for a fully-clothed figure and therefore more likely perhaps to depict Artemis, cf. M. Bieber, The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age, New York, 1955, fig.41.

    The use of inlaid eyes reflects the original medium of bronze in which many of Praxiteles' and his contemporaries' works were produced. Other marble copies of original bronzes were produced with eyes hollowed for inlay such as the Athena Lemnia head in the Archaeological Museum of Bologna, but most are all now missing their eyes. This bust, with surviving original inlaid eyes, allows us a sense of the Knidos: 'melting gaze of the eyes with their bright and joyous expression...to preserve the spirit of Praxiteles (Lucian Eikones, 6).
  1. Madeleine Perridge
    Specialist - Antiquities
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