Bust of a Hermaphrodite


About this object

Bust of a hermaphodite. Despite its poor condition especially on the surface of the marble the head is distinct for the delicate carving of the mouth and the eyes. There is no visible hair for the subject and it is difficult to determine whether it's a man or a woman, an ambiguity suitable to the subject of hermaphrodite. The headress means it can be identified as a hermaphrodite as it is found in many similar Roman types. The headress is rising high on the head and folded over a short veil, kept in place by a flat band running across the forehead. Similar Roman types were often parts of double herms. Bartman believed that the Ince piece was broken from a herm, although the state of finish at the back does not indicate a double herm. Bartman compared it to a hemaphrodite statuette from a villa outside Pompei, especially because of its bland asexuality.

The marble has a granular surface that indicates extreme weathering, the nose has been broken but reattached. There are restorations on the entire bust, the outer edges and lower part of the veil on both sides, the nose. The outer edge of the veil on the right were once doweled in place but have now disappeared.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    480 mm x 230 mm x 220 mm x 20.5 kg
  • Note
    Fragments from veil stored with bust. Blundell mistook the bust because of the veil as an indicator of the goddess Vesta. None of the other hermaphrodites from the Blundell collection wears this type of veil and they are both much more feminine with long hair and delicate details on the face than 59.148.190. Bartman suggested that the serious expression of this bust may indicate that the figure was used in a ritual function in a domestic or public context. Bartman notes that a similar example have been found in a Pompeian Thermopolium and that Hermaphrodites associated with fertility, ofteh included a Bacchus.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

Explore related


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

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    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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