Statue of Athena



Statue of Athena, with a small diagonal aegis. From the Villa Mattei, but previously believed to have come from Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli. The statue was acquired by Henry Blundell during his first Grand Tour in 1777 and believed to have been acquired from the Villa Mattei although it was not included in the publication of the collection by Ridolfino Venuti. Bartman proposed that the statue may have been slipped in by Jenkins in order to enhance the sale. Some of the restorations are undisguised: the head, neck and right arm from the shoulder, the back of the drapery with a tip of the ponytail and the bent left elbow. It is unknown when these restorations were done. There are also other minor repairs such as on the outer edges of the drapery and two toes of the left foot and part of the sandal. In addition the snake decorated lower edge of the aegis has been recut and has no border at its lower end. The lower end of the aegis is instead mixed up with the drapery folds of the mantle. The head was probably modelled from the Ince Athena. The statue derived from the Athena Vescovali type, at least 30 versions of this type were known. The pose and the drapery are complex and forceful with a column like effect. The left arm is bent on the hip. The head in many of the Vescovali versions faces left and is titled back, opposite to the current position of this statue. There is a rich swirl of drapery on the upper body, the mantle is angular around the shoulder and arm. Bartman noted that the folds of the upper body are rather flat and in contrast with the chiaroscuro effect of the skirt drapery. The diagonal position of the aegis suggests that it was added almost as an afterthought. The statue is conventionally attributed to a range of masters associated with the late 4th century BC, one of which is Praxiteles.