Head of Priapus or Bacchus on a modern herm


About this object

Male head, representing the god Bacchus or Priapus according to Ashmole. There are ivy and vine leaves at the crown of the head which place the head in the Bacchic circle and in the Archaistic style. The head is almost entirely covered by the hair, the forehead and the temples overhung. There is a flat and ponytail at the back of the hair and two side locks, a thin plait wounds into a decorative knot at the centre.The eyes are narrow and almond shaped and the lids are well defined and a high arching brow. The mouth has the typical Archaic smile. The moustache is symmetrically arched and connected to the beard which is like a ribbon. The hair of the moustache are less plastically rendered and symmetrically combed from the centre divided into bands that are defined by the chisel. There are several equivalents of this head that have been identified as Priapus such as the ones in Palazzo dei Conservatori or the Villa Albani one . Bartman noted that the Ince head may be similar in iconography, the hair in the Ince piece are less archaistic and perhaps later than the Augustan period. Such heads have been found in private villas such as the Papiri in the Herculaneum and in houses in the Pompeii and were popular for the decoration of villas. The herm is a work of restorer possibly the same one as 59.148.129 but the reference may have just been a marketing ploy as there is no evidence that they were positioned together in a Roman villa.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    1st- 2d Century AD
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
  • Note
    Blundell called in Jupiter based on the misreading of the incorrectly restored modius at the top of the head and admired the fine carving. He also called it Etruscan and this is evidence that he understood early forms.
  • 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 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
Object view = Humanities
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