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Sculpture; Statue of Antinous

, 130 AD - 138 AD

LL 208

About this object

Hadrian visited Egypt in AD 130, along with both his wife and Antinous, and embarked on a voyage up the River Nile. On 24 October Antinous drowned in the river. It lead to a public outpouring of grief on the part of Hadrian. The extent of their love for one another was indicated by reports that Hadrian wept for him like a woman’. It is thought that Antinous might have sacrificed himself to the Gods in order to ensure Hadrian’s prosperity. Antinous became something of a celebrity after his death. He was deified (worshipped as a God) and a new city named Antinopolis was founded near the site of his death. Hadrian erected statues, such as this one, which embodied an ideal form of youthful beauty, throughout his Empire.

Object specifics

  • Other title(s)
    Art; Sculpture; Statue of Antinous
  • Artist(s)
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Date
    130 AD - 138 AD
  • Materials
  • Measurements
    2325 mm x 690 mm x 901 mm
  • Physical description
    Heroic size marble statue of Antinous, a youth of renowned beauty from Bithynia in northwest Asia Minor (Turkey). He was the favourite lover of the Emperor Hadrian (born AD 76, died AD 138), accompanying him on tours of his Empire. He is portrayed here in the style of Greek sculpture of the early Classical period (about 450 BC). His right arm is raised aloft and he holds a cup. His left arm is by his side and holds a jug.The features are ennobled, upward turn of the head suggests a feeling of exaltation. It is likely that Antinous is represented here offering ambrosia to Hadrian but since both the forearms are a restoration it is likely that in the original work showed Antinous crowning himself with his right hand and held an athletic object with the left arm and that the statue copied a popular athletic statue from the middle of the 5th century BC. The head is lifesize and unbroken from the body. The irises of the eyes were incised and the pupils drilled but the cleaning has eliminated these marks. The hair above the forehead was separated with a drill as was the upper left arm from the body at front and back, the buttocks and the right heel from the pedestal. Different scholars attributed the statue to the various traditions: Clairmont and Michaelis to the type of Ganymede offering ambrosia to Hadrian as Jupiter. Vermeule attributed it to Antinous-Dionysus and compared it to ta torso of this type in the National Bank of Rome. Clairmont believed the portrait to be of the type B portrait of the Antinous Farnese in Naples. Fuchs compared the body with the Capitoline Cacciatore, of the time of Gallienus and suggested that it derived from the famous original of the Myronian circle of sculptors to 450 BC. The statue was purchased by Leverhulme at the sale of Thomas Hope’s collection. It was restored in the late 18th century by the Roman sculptor Pierantoni, whose additions include the cup and jug held by Antinous. The Hope brothers bought it from the Pierantoni in 1796. It was the second most expensive statue sold at the Hope auction of 1917.
  • Related people
    Antinous (Subject of); Thomas Hope (Previous owner); William Hesketh Lever (Collector, previous owner); Giovanni Pierantoni (Previous owner)
  • Other number(s)
    Out of Use Inventory Number: X2170
  • Credit line
    Purchased by William Hesketh Lever
  • Location
    Lady Lever Art Gallery, Room 19
  • Collection
    From the Lady Lever Art Gallery collections


Previous owners

  • Thomas Hope

    Owned from: 1796
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1831
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Giovanni Pierantoni

    Owned from: 1794
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1796
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • William Hesketh Lever

    Owned from: 1917
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
Object view = Fine Art
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