About this object

Bust of Hermes or a mortal in the guise of Mercury, recognised by the well preserved petasos with wings. Bartman commented on the generic quality of the face and the impropability that it was a portrait. It is narrow in proportions but has an intense gaze, a high but regular brow and a small mouth. It is overall a Mercury of a young age. His hair is in thick curls, with each curl carving into a near circle with a deep hole in the middle. The treatment of the curls is unusual for antiquity as is the combination of large holes with rich plastic volumes. It is therefore possible that the work relates more to later works of Greek sculpture because of this strong chiaroscuro effect, characteristic of Hellenistic and later periods.
The face but not the hair were chemically treated. There is breakage only on some of the front curls and the front and the upper part of the petasos, the upper part of the wings of petasos and the side of right nostril.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    1st 2nd century AD; 18th century Bust
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    395 mm x 230 mm x 200 mm x 12 kg
  • Note
    Curator's note: Blundell mentioned in his Account that the sculptor Boni had the work for sale for many years but it did not sell because of its high price or pehraps because there were doubts that it was ancient. Henry Blundell displayed it in the Pantheon.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

Explore related


  • A Catalogue of the Ancient Marbles at Ince Blundell Hall

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    Author: Ashmole, Bernard
    Publisher: Clarendon Press
    Date: 1929
    Description: An illustrated catalogue of the ancient sculptures collected by Henry Blundell and formerly at Ince Blundell Hall.

  • An Account of the Statues, Busts, Bass Relieves, Cinerary Urns, and other ancient marbles, and paintings at Ince. Collected by H.B.

    Blundell, Henry

    Author: Blundell, Henry
    Date: 1803

  • Ancient Marbles in Great Britain

    Michaelis, A

    Author: Michaelis, A
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Date: 1882

  • The Ince Blundell collection of classical sculpture Volume III-The ideal sculpture

    Bartman, Elizabeth

    Author: Bartman, Elizabeth
    Publisher: Liverpool University Press
    Date: 2017
    Description: This book investigates the important antiquities collection formed by Henry Blundell of Ince Blundell Hall, near Liverpool, in the late eighteenth century. Consisting of more than 500 ancient marbles - the UK's largest collection of Roman sculptures after that of the British Museum - the collection was assembled primarily in Italy during Blundell's various 'Grant Tour' visits. As ancient statues were the preeminent souvenir of the Grand Tour, Blundell has strong competition from other collectors, British nobility and European aristocrats, monarchs, and the Pope. His statues represent a typical cross section of sculptures that would have decorated ancient Roman houses, villas, public spaces and even tombs, although their precise origins are largely unknown. Most are likely to have come from Rome and at least one was found at Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli.


Previous owners

  • Joseph William Weld

    Owned from: 1958
    How acquired: By descent
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Donation
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Bequest
Object view = Humanities
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