About this object

Statue of a young naked male, identified as the god Dionysus. Youthful representations of the god were very popular from the late classical period and there are many surviving statues. The Ince statue is different in that the Bacchus has his left hip outward, he is thus supported on his left leg with a tree trunk which is ornamented with grapes and spiralling vines. It cannot be identified as a Bacchus with absolute certainty because he is missing any attributes. The long hair could be easily attributed to Apollo. The restoration kept the head turning to its side and giving the statue an aloofness. There is a broken patch on the left hip and this may indicate that the strut was originally on the left.
The torso is ancient and was joined with the modern addition of the lower legs, ams, strust and base The restorations at the knees, elbows and hips and would require significant technical skills in joining such a big modern piece with the ancient torso and having to rethink scale and planes.
Blundell was aware of the restoration and mentioned in a letter to Townley that he bought the statue in pieces. An illustration of the same statue in the Vetera Monumenta Matthaeiorum as a complete statue may be a fiction or may have been fabricated to increase the appeal to potential collectors.
Formerly Mattei collection, from Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    1st-2nd century AD
  • 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
  • Measurements
    1270 mm x 470 mm
  • Note
    Curator's note: observed by Dr Elizabeth Bartman that the statue's lower restoration is from reused marble, the folds at the base were from a female statue which was draped (September 2014 ), the piece was probably used upside down. The restorer may have also used the excess marble of the female draped figure in other restorations. Appears in NML photograph displayed in the Pantheon. Ashmole compared the statue with a parallel in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and Bartman with a statue in Woburn Abbey, although she marked that Ince Bacchus has the reverse pose to those statues, with the left leg leaning outwards. Bartman believed the restored legs to be too thick and the head small while the absence of drillwork on the grapes and ivy leaves makes them look really flat. According to Bartman the face has a similar blandness. Ashmole was tempted to attribute the statue to the circle of Praxiteles because of its classicism and the vocabulary of nudity but the small size of the statue suggests that it came from a private rather than a public context.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Ciriaco Mattei ( Previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

Explore related


  • A Catalogue of the Ancient Marbles at Ince Blundell Hall

    Ashmole, Bernard

    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
  • Ciriaco Mattei

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