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Details & Cataloguing

Ancient Marbles: Classical Sculpture and Works of Art

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A Roman marble figure of Eros, circa mid 3rd Century A.D.
carved almost entirely in the round, from the right front corner of a monumental sarcophagus lid in the form of a kline supporting the reclining figure of the deceased, the young deity leaning against the armrest with his legs formerly crossed, and holding fruit before him within the folds of his chlamys, his hair arranged in a top-knot, the armrest decorated with the bust of a satyr or maenad and the head of a horse; no restorations.
Height 60 cm.
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Provenance

Ernst Ascher, 1, rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris
American private collection, Chicago, acquired from the above on January 31st, 1963 (the invoice reads "Buste d'enfant; marbre, représentant le Dieu Harpocrate, les / cheveux sont rassemblés sur le haut de la tête / Epoque Egyp(t)o-Romaine environ 2e A.D. / Ancienne collection Hakim")
Christie's, New York, June 14th, 1996, no. 102, illus. ("The Property of a Lady")
New Jersey private collection (Christie's, New York, December 7th, 2011, no. 205, illus., prior to cleaning and re-mounting)
acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Literature

Christie's, New York, December 9th, 2015, no. 78,  illus.

Catalogue Note

For similar fruit-bearing figures of Eros shown standing at the front corners of kline-shaped sarcophagus lids from Asia Minor see the Sidamara Sarcophagus in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, inv. no. 1179 (H. Wiegartz, Kleinasiatische Säulensarkophage, 1965, p. 156, pls. 7c. and f; http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/objekt/7650), and a sarcophagus in the Torlonia Collection (http://arachne.uni-koeln.de/item/objekt/131793). Both examples also show a horse head emerging from the armrest of the couch, thus emulating in marble what would have been a bronze attachment (the fulcrum) on an actual wood couch. The bust of a satyr or maenad depicted on the present example is unattested on other sarcophagi to our knowledge. It represents the lower end of the fulcrum on the arm of the couch, a position often occupied by Dionysiac figures, such as Silenus, satyrs, and maenads, on preserved bronze examples (see S. Faust, Fulcra. Figürlicher und ornamentaler Schmuck an antiken Betten, Mainz, 1989).

Ancient Marbles: Classical Sculpture and Works of Art

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London