July 9, 01:29 PM GMT
30,000 - 50,000 GBP
A ROMAN MARBLE CUIRASSED BUST OF MARS, CIRCA LATE 4TH CENTURY A.D.
his head turned slightly to his right, with short beard, eyes with incised irises and drilled crescentic pupils, and wavy hair surmounted by a Corinthian helmet pushed back high above the forehead, and wearing a cuirass decorated with a small gorgoneion, a chlamys fastened with a brooch on his left shoulder, mounted on a later variegated socle; restored are the tip of nose, lower edges of cheek-pieces, and small patch of drapery; the back apparently hollowed out in modern times.
Total height 68 cm.; height without socle 55 cm.; height of face 16 cm.
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European private collection, 18th Century (based on the restoration techniques)
Private collection, France, acquired on the Marseilles art market in the late 1960s
Sotheby's, London, June 13th, 2016, no. 18, illus.
acquired by the present owner at the above auction
This bust is an example of Late Antique ideal sculpture. The specific form of eye-markings and the inexpressive face are reminiscent of a female head in the Vatican (C. Vorster, Jahrbuch des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, vol. 127/28, 2012/13, pp. 421ff., fig. 22), which is dated to the late 4th Century A.D.
The fact that the back of the present bust was apparently hollowed out in modern times suggests that it was once part of a tondo (cf. a tondo with cuirassed bust from Aquileia: LIMC, vol. 2, p. 522, no. 140, pl. 393; for Late-Antique tondi in general see Vorster, op. cit., pp. 447ff.). The bust represents in all likelihood the Roman god Mars (cf. the statue of Mars Ultor: LIMC, vol. 2, p. 515, no. 24a, pl. 384).
Restoring a Corinthian helmet with an actual nose as a nose-guard, as can be seen on this bust, was not uncommon in the 18th Century; cf. a head in the Villa Albani: P. Bol, ed., Forschungen zur Villa Albani. Katalog der antiken Bildwerke, vol. 2, 1990, p. 62f., no. 166, pl. 26f.