Bust/herm of an Athlete


About this object

Bust or herm of an athlete, Late Augustan/Early Claudian, because of the treatment of the face and the closely packed incised lines. The head is unbroken at the neck from the fragmented bust, the original rim of the bust is preserved at the back and left shoulder.The man has heavy features, strong cheekbones, a wide chin and a big mouth with a fleshy lower lip.The small eyes lie deeply set under bony and swollen eyebrows and the low furrowed forehead.
The hood-like hairstyle is made with sculpted closely-packed incised lines, the hair may had originally been painted or had a helmet or a hood. This hairstyle is of a style worn by athletes from the Archaic through to the Roman period. Images of athletes were often displayed on herm shafts. The square support of the bust as well as the flat way the shoulder ends may indicate that this head was on a herm shaft. The nose is restored, as is the rim of the right ear and the right shoulder with lower part of the bust. There is damage to the forehead, eyebrows and left cheek.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    10 AD - 30 AD
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    495 mm x 310 mm x 320 mm x 24 kg
  • Note
    Blundell identified him as Scipio because of the short hair and following the tradition that had started in the 17th century of associating Scipio with short hair. According to that tradition and a passage from Pliny Scipio ( the younger ) was the first Roman to shave daily. Dated by Jane Fejfer because of the treatment of the hair and the modelling of the facial features to late Augustan and early Claudian period. Jane Fejfer also notes that the treatment of the hair may be a recut from the period of the Tetrarchs ( 3rd century AD ).
  • 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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