About this object

Bust of an old Silenus, depicted in a state of drunkness, his tongue lolling inside his open mouth, a detail not often shown in classical sculpture and giving the head a naturalism. The restorer followed the ancient sculptor when restoring the beard attached to the chest: the head is shown falling forward and it is possible that the body of the Silenus is lying down or reclining and he is therefore represented as having fallen asleep from drunkness. His body would be short and flabby with a bulging pouch and possibly covered in fur. While the beard and the moustache are thic and heavy, the head seems to be adorned by the ivy wreath and the two front bunches of berries emerging from the wreath. His eyes are small and beady and they are under a thick brow. Together with his hairiness the thick brow may be a reminder of Silenus's masculine vigour. The restored ears represent him more as a human than a beast but the original ears were broken and we therefore do not know how he was originally depicted. Silenus or Bacchus would be used either in the interior of Roman villas in Roman dinning tables to underline the effect of excessive wine consumptions or in the exterior of villas, emphasising the wild nature of the creature. Copy of an original of about the early second century BC.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • 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
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    560 mm x 290 mm x 280 mm
  • Note
    Bought from the Capponi Palace by Blundell. Bartman noted that this is not a caricatured representation of Silenus such as one in Villa Quintili.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

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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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