Lot 29
  • 29

A Marble Head of Aphrodite, also known as Sappho, Roman Imperial, circa late 1st/early 2nd Century A.D.

40,000 - 60,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • A Marble Head of Aphrodite, also known as Sappho
  • marble
  • Height 13 3/4 in. 34.9 cm.
after or inspired by a Greek work of the 5th Century B.C., her head turned very slightly to her left, with parted lips and almond-shaped eyes, her wavy hair parted in the center, bound in a wide cap (opisthosphendonè) behind of which the ends are knotted above the forehead, and tied in a fillet wound twice around the head, over the crown and above the forehead, twin corkscrew curls falling in front of each ear, the neck carved for insertion into a statue or herm.


Galerie de Bayser, 30, rue de Varenne, Paris
acquired by the present owner from the above on June 17th, 1978

Catalogue Note

Heads of this type were long thought to be portraits of the Greek poetess Sappho. "The type is now commonly recognized as representing Aphrodite, not Sappho" (G.M.A. Richter, Portraits of the Greeks, vol. I, London, 1965, p. 72., with a list of replicas). For the interpretation of the type as Aphrodite see also H. von Heintze, Das Bildnis des Sappho, Mainz, 1966, p. 29, notes 83 and 84.

For a closely related head in the Vatican Museums, Galleria delle Carte Geografiche, inv. no. 2893, see G. Lippold, Die Skulpturen des Vatikanischen Museums, vol. III, 2, Berlin 1956, pp. 455f., cat. no. 17, pl. 196; Richter, op. cit., figs. 257-258 (http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/objekt/20486). Also see British Museum, inv. no. 1973,0304.6 (A.H. Smith, Catalogue of Sculpture in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, British Museum, vol. 3, London, 1904, no. 1828 (http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/objekt/10760; http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?assetId=390903&objectId=407172&partId=1#more-views).