Statuette of Cybele or Ceres


About this object

Statuette of a youthful woman seated frontally and on a throne, her left leg is extended and the right is retracted. Both arms were originally extended in front of her torso and probably held objects. Her head was originally more vertical and probably turned slightly to one side, but now leans forward. The drapery is carefully executed but is rather flat. She wears a sleeved chiton which clings to her body and an himation which runs from the left sleeve across her back and over her lap. The deep carving of the arms and the loop behind the right knee enhance the chiaroscuro effect of the statuette. The throne has a cushion with a fringed fabric. At her feet there are various objects and animals. On her left there is a long eared sow, his snout touches a canister like an object ( suggested to be a modius by Elizabeth Bartman ). At her right stands a small sentinel, like a bull, next to a cylindrical object, either an altar or a basket with a ram's head on top.

The seated figure was identified by Ashmole as Cybele because of the flat round object, the tympanun, resting against the goddess' legs. Bartman notes that the figure is heavily idealised and could represent several different female deities. She proposed Ceres as another alternative to Cybele because Cybelle is normally accompanied by lions rather than domestic animals. If she is Ceres, then Bartman proposed that the two cylindrical objects would be grain measures or baskets but the flat round object would still be enigmatic. Bartman described the statue as an ordinarily executed piece, reproducing a cult statue. It was probably used as a votive statue in a sanctuary or was a religious object in a private home or tomb.

The statue is made of two ancient fragments from different statues the body and the female head. The nose and chin of the head have been restored, the neck as well as the upper part of veil from the shoulders, the left hand, forepart of right hand and of patera. The head of the bull is also a modern restoration. The back of the throne is smooth but is not detailed and the rough chiseling suggests that the statue may have been recut from an architectural block which had a moulding that was worked out.

The body is in marble from Luna (central Italy). The head, of Parian marble, is antique but from another statue.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy
  • Date made
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date collected
    Unknown or unrecorded
  • Measurements
    520 mm x 300 mm x 350 mm
  • Note
    Bartman noted that Ceres would normally be represented as an older than young woman.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell (Collector, previous owner); Ciriaco Mattei (Previous owner); Giuseppe Mattei (Previous owner); Joseph William Col Sir 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 Col Sir 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
  • Giuseppe Mattei

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Inherited
    Owned until: 1770
    Disposal method: Sold
  • Ciriaco Mattei

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1614
    Disposal method: Bequest
Object view = Humanities
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