Statuette of Hypnos
Bronze, hollow cast. Roman, after a Greek original of the 4th century BCE.
Height 34 cm.
Inv. No. VI 129.Vienna, Museum of Art History

Statuette of Hypnos.

Bronze, hollow cast. Roman, after a Greek original of the 4th century BCE.
Height 34 cm.
Inv. No. VI 129.

Vienna, Museum of Art History
(Wien, Kunsthistorisches Museum).

According to Hesiods Theogony, which was written in about 700 BC, Hypnos is the god of sleep, the son of Nyx (Night) and brother of Thanatos (Death). Like the latter, he lives where Night and Day meet and where Atlas is holding up the heavens. But while the merciless Thanatos has a heart of iron, Hypnos sweeps across land and sea, bringing peaceful and friendly sleep to men.
Hypnos, who according to Ovid (Metamorphoses 11.623) is the “gentlest” of the gods, is depicted as a naked youth, hurrying as though in flight, his torso bent forward and his right foot touching the ground only with its toes. In his outstretched right hand he is holding a horn from which a sleep-inducing liquid flows; his lowered left hand holds poppy capsules. Large wings, like those of the messenger of the gods, Hermes, are growing out of his full head of hair, which is held together by a band across his forehead and tied together in a knot at his neck. The sweeping gesture of his outstretched right arm corresponds to his right leg, which stretches backwards, while his left forearm points in the same direction as the left leg, on which his weight is resting.
The statuette is a smaller copy of a Greek original. The best-known copies are those in Madrid (marble) and London (bronze head), but unfortunately the original is not mentioned in the Classical literary sources. It is usually linked to artists of the 4th century BC (Praxiteles, Scopas, Leochares), but given the complexity of the motion depicted, it could also have been created in the later Hellenistic period.
The statuette comes from the collection of Joseph Angelo de France, who under Empress Maria Theresa was “director-general of the imperial and royal treasury, galleries and other precious collections”. He died in 1761, and his extensive collection of Classical bronzes was acquired from his heiress in 1808 for the Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
© 2006. Photo, text: A Brief Guide to the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Edited by Wilfried Seipel. Vol. 4. Masterpieces in the Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities. Kunsthistorisches Museum. SKIRA, 2006, p. 54, cat. 14.
Keywords: γλυπτική sculptura sculpture sculptural scultura skulptur ρωμαϊκό roman romana romano romani römisch römische römisches römischen römischer romain romaine romains romaines ρωμαϊκό αντίγραφο copy copia kopie copie χάλκινο bronze bronzo bronzeo bronzen horn for drinking of wine rhytòn corno potorio per bere vino zum trinken für wein corne à boire pour le vin rhyton ῥυτόν ρυτό statuette figurine hypnos sleep hollow cast work after greek original wing wings poppy capsules poppyseed inv no vi 129