Statue of a Maenad or Muse


About this object

An underlife size statue of a female figure, standing on her right leg, the left leg bent at the knee, resting to the back and slightly to the side. The upper body is also slightly turned but there is no evidence of the original position of the arms or the direction of the original head. She wears a sleeveless chiton, girdled just under the breasts and draped in a long kolpos. A nebris, slung diagonally across the body is tied to the left shoulder and falls low on the hips while passing under the girdle band to secure it. The body looks thick and motionless. There is little effort to distinguish the skin of the nebris from the woven fabric of the chiton, the drapery has a rather stiff appearance. Bartman noted that the modelling of the right breast is particularly awkard while the back is worked in a very general manner. Only the flowing lower of the kolpos is convincing as a real fabric. It is difficult to identify the statuette because the head is a restoration and because the attributes are missing. She looks similar to draped women interpreted as Muses (possibly Thalia). Muses are normally dressed more modestly and have their arms covered. The bare arms of this piece perhaps suggest a Maenad. In Greek mythology, the maenads were the female followers of the god Dionysos whereas the Muses were goddesses who provided the inspriation for science and the arts. Maenads lived in the woods and this would justify the nebris the statuette wears. Maenads are also depicted, wearing a nebris in the group of ancient reliefs known as the Callimachan series. The ancient sculptor either adapted a sculptural type or created a new type using personal and unique attributes. Maenads became popular as a theme and the restorer may have tried to adjust the identity of a modest original figure.
The head and neck were also restored, the right arm and left forearm. The drapery also has signs of recut. During conservation treatment it became apparent that the right arm was attached incorrectly: the new mount is angled more sharply at the elbow and elevated.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    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
    1260 mm x 580 mm x 370 mm x 164.5 kg
  • Note
    Ashmole believed that the treatment of the skin demonstrated a link with the Dionysian circle and the work was a Roman copy of the Hadrian's time. Asmole related the treatment of the drapery to Attic originals of the first half of the 4th century BC such as Eirene by Cepisodotus. Bartman: Maenads are well known in examples from reliefs and mosaics but were not that frequent for free standing sculpture. Blundell was aware of the popularity of the Maenads as a subject for later art and mentioned a painting by Sebastiano Ricci of the Venetian Baroque era.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Francesco d'Este ( Previous owner); Ippolito d'Este ( Previous owner); John Thorpe ( Previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

Explore related


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    Date: 1929
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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
  • John Thorpe

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Francesco d'Este

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Unknown or unrecorded
  • Ippolito d'Este

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