A young man — approximately life-size — is in the process of tying one sandal, while supporting the foot on a rock. While doing so he raises his head as though listening.
The statue type, which is traditionally referred to as ‘Sandal-tying Hermes’, is known in many replicas, and there is no doubt that it represents Hermes, the Messenger of the Gods, fastening his winged sandals, as he listens to instructions from above, from Zeus. Some contend that he is actually loosening the sandal as he is only using one hand. Through the ages the type has also been thought to represent Jason, Achilles, Theseus, Cincinnatus and Demetrios Poliorketes, but after the discovery, in 1977, of a replica in Perge (modern-day Turkey) the initial identification has prevailed, since he is equipped with both winged sandals and the staff, caduceus, the attributes of Hermes.
Sandal-tying Hermes is attributed to the famous Greek sculptor Lysippos from the late 4th century. Among Lysippos’ appointments was court sculptor to Alexander the Great, and in addition to portraits of the king he is also famous for many representations of gods and athletes, notable for the new proportions and poses which encroach on the surrounding space. Lysippos’ famous Apoxy-omenos ‘The Scraper’ in the Vatican is posed so that the figure seems to be in the process of shifting his weight from one leg to the [p.191][p.192] other, while, at the same time, in the actual movement of scraping he reaches out into space towards the spectator. The rendering in sculpture of a shift in position is not mastered again until Rodin. Copies of the Sandal-tying Hermes may have also been part of the decoration of sports facilities as a general representation of an athletic youth. The two motifs can only be differentiated if one of the attributes has survived, e.g. the winged shoes.
A description from Late Antiquity of a bronze statue in Constantinople closely matches Sandal-tying Hermes, and the statue type is also known from appearances on Roman coins, where Hermes’ characteristic staff, the caduceus, also appears.
In his extensive villa at Tivoli near Rome, the emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD) had marble copies of numerous Greek original works in bronze. A copy in Munich and 54 are both from the villa, where they may have been part of a form of symmetrical ornamentation of an architectural complex (See p. 26). A further, unfinished copy was discovered on the Athenian Acropolis, which may mean that the bronze original was also set up there.
Roman copy from 2nd century AD of a Greek original from the 4th century BC.
I. N. 2798
H. 154; 162 with plinth.
Pieced together from numerous fragments together with the following restoration work: the plinth (except for a small area under the left foot) with the rock and tree-trunk support, the right foot, left buttock and left leg between the knee and ankle, the left hand with part of the arm, many parts of the drapery, the right forearm (except for the wrist which is antique), a piece of the neck, the nose and the right eyebrow. On the plinth behind the right leg are traces of a ploughshare, which the restorer has copied from a statue in Paris restored as Cincinnatus. There are also traces on the tree-trunk at the top where it meets the inside of the thigh, which has no obvious explanation: perhaps this was to provide a support for the caduceus.
Discovered in 1769 at the Villa of Hadrian at Tivoli near Rome, restored by Bartolemeo Cavaceppi and from 1771 in the possession of the Earl of Shelburne (Fig. 19). Acquired from Lansdowne House, London in 1930.
F. Poulsen 1951, Cat. 273a; A. H. Smith (ed.), A Catalogue of the Ancient Marbles at Lansdowne House (London 1889) no. 85; Vierneisel-Schlörb 1979, 457 f.; J. Rader, Die Statuarische Ausstattung der Villa Hadriana bei Tivoli (1983) 34-35; F. Haskell & N. Penny, Taste and the Antique. The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900 (1981) ad no. 23; B. S. Ridgway, Hellenistic Sculpture I (1990) 81 f.; A. M. Nielsen, MedKob 48 (1992) 22ff; J. Inan, Der Sandalenbindende Hermes, AntP22 (1993) 105-10; P. Moreno, Scultura ellenistica I, Rome 1994, fig. 57; Lisippo. L’Arte e La Fortuna, Catalogue (1995) 238-39, nr. 4. 35. 6. For the restorations see S. Howard, Cavaceppi. Eighteenth Century Restorer (reprint New York 1982) 95-96. For the acquisition, M. Moltesen, MedKob NS 4 (2002) 53-70.