Statue of Athena


About this object

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 derives from the Athena Vescovali type, at least 30 versions of this type are 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 notes 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.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    2nd century BC-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
  • Note
    Formerly on display in the Greenhouse at Ince Blundell Hall. Bartman did not consider that the statue compared well with the Athena on the Mantinea base by Praxiteles. Instead she proposed that the Ince statue is post classical, either Greek or Roman.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

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    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: 1789
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Bequest
Object view = Humanities
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