Head of a Greek poet, probably Hesiod or Euripides
Marble.
Ca. 1st cent. CE.
H. 33 cm.
Sotheby’s Auction House

Head of a Greek poet, probably Hesiod or Euripides.

Marble.
Ca. 1st cent. CE.
H. 33 cm.

Sotheby’s Auction House

Private collection.
Origin:
Nils Ebbessøn Astrup (1901—1972), Oslo, acquired in Rome in the 1950s on the advice of Prof. Hans Peter L’Orange (1903—1983), founder and then Director of the Norwegian Institute in Rome.
Private collection, United Kingdom, by descent (Sotheby’s, New York, June 8th, 2011, no. 42, illus.).
Property from a Delaware Private Collection (Sotheby’s, London, Dec. 3, 2019, no. 39. Lot Sold: 1,155,000 GBP).
Description:
Property from a Delaware Private Collection.

A Roman marble head of a Greek poet, probably Hesiod or Euripides, circa 1st century A.D., turned to his left and gazing up with an energized and intensely concentrated expression, with unkempt beard and unruly hair radiating from the crown and falling in long locks over the forehead, temples, and nape of the neck; no restorations.
Height 33 cm.

This impressive and expressive head belongs to a Hellenistic portrait type known in at least fourty replicas. The identification is still uncertain. Identified as Seneca in the 16th Century, it was given a plethora of names by modern scholarship, e. g. Hesiod or Aesop (for an overview of the suggested identifications see Richter, op. cit., pp. 63 ff.). Lastly, W. Fuchs, Thetis, vol. 11/12, 2005, pp. 113 ff., argued for an interpretation as a Hellenistic re-imagination of the portrait of Euripides (cf. E. Voutiras, Archeologia Classica, vol. 60, 2009, p. 95).

Seeberg, op. cit. 1959, p. 109 remarks: “This was a man of long ago — a semi-legendary figure of the remote past, maybe, at any rate not likely to have flourished later than the early years of the Hellenistic age. The artist visualised him as a bitter, aged fellow, clearly with some sort of an axe to grind, probably not kindly treated by Fate or by his contemporaries. He was a man of the spirit — poet, or thinker, or both — and of immense fame, whether universal or confined to a large circle of ardent devotees”.

Estimate: 1,000,000 — 1,500,000 GBP
Lot Sold: 1,155,000 GBP.

Literature:
Oscar Thue, “Utstillinger i Oslo varen 1959”, Kunst og Kultur, vol. 42, 1959, p. 257, ill.
Axel Seeberg, “Two Pseudo-Seneca Replicas in Oslo”, Symbolae Osloenses, vol. 35, 1959, pp. 98 ff., figs. 3-5.
Axel Seeberg, “Disjecta membra”, Acta ad archaeologiam et artium historiam pertinentia, vol. 1, 1962, p. 17 f., pl. 3 b—c.
Gisela M. A. Richter, The Portraits of the Greeks, vol. 1, London, 1965, p. 61, no. 38, figs. 207—209.
Siri Sande, “Antikke portretter i norsk privateie”, Kunst og Kultur, vol. 56, 1973, p. 42 f., ill.
Siri Sande, “Greek and Roman Portraits in Norwegian Collections”, Acta ad archaeologiam et artium historiam pertinentia, vol. 10, 1991, p. 16 f., no. 8, pl. 8.
Credits:
© 2019. Photo, text: Sotheby’s Auction House (Sale L19261 Lot 39).
Keywords: απεικόνιση portrait portraiture ritratto ritrattistica porträtmalerei porträt ελληνική φιγούρα greek figures greeks figura greca figure greche greco greci griechische figur figuren grieche griechen grecque grecques grec grecs ἡσίοδος ησίοδος poeta graecus hesiodos hesiodus poet hesiod esiodo griechischer dichter poète hésiode τραγικός εὐριπίδης ευριπίδης euripides tragedian drammaturgo euripide dramatiker tragiques μυθοποιός μυθογράφος αἴσωπος αίσωπος aesopus aisopos fabulist aesop scrittore esopo äsop aisop écrivain ésope of a man male maschile uomo männliches mann masculin un homme portraitkopf roman romana römisches romain romano römischer λεύκιος λούκιος ανναίος σενέκας lucius annaeus seneca philosopher the younger filosofo lucio anneo il giovane philosoph der jüngere philosophe sénèque le jeune γλυπτική sculptura sculpture sculptural scultura skulptur ρωμαϊκό romani römisch römische römischen romaine romains romaines κεφάλι κεφαλή head testa kopf tête marble marmo marmor marbre μάρμαρο beard bearded barba barbuto bart bärtiger barbe barbu barbatum γενειάδα γενειοφόρος άνθρωπος so-called cosiddetto considerato sogenannt sogenannte soi-disant pseudo το λεγόμενο
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