Kallos Gallery

A Roman marble head of Ariadne wearing a wreath

This marble head depicts Ariadne, the helper of Theseus in the labyrinth who later become the wife of Dionysus or Bacchus, the god of wine and fertility.

Roman Imperial, Circa 2nd Century AD

33cm high

 

A Roman marble head of Ariadne wearing a wreath

Roman Imperial, Circa 2nd Century AD

33cm high

 

Beautifully carved in white crystalline marble, this head represents a young woman with a carefully arranged hairstyle. The head would have been made for insertion into a life-size statue as indicated by the shape of the lower part of the neck.  The oval-shaped face is carved with fine features: full lips and almond-shaped eyes with heavy lids creating a serene expression.  The high forehead is framed by parted hair, with wavy strands combed up from the sides and tightened in a bun at the nape. Such hairstyles rose to popularity in Greek art of the Classical and Late Classical period with the multiple and carefully arranged wavy grooves typical of the work of Praxiteles in the 4th century BC. His masterpieces were copied throughout the Hellenistic era and influenced the works of Roman sculptors such as the sculptor of this head.

The head is crowned with a wreath composed of pine cones and clusters, each detail well-modelled and drilled. This particular attribute identifies the subject as a Dionysiac/Bacchic follower, most likely Ariadne, who became the bride of the wine-god Dionysos/Bacchus.

The art of ancient Rome extends from the Republican Period in the 2nd century B.C. to works produced during the Roman Imperial Period from the 1st to the 4th century A.D. Throughout this time, Roman artists were consistently inspired by a Greek artistic tradition, from which they borrowed heavily. Roman art is noted for its innovative architecture, finely executed wall paintings and mosaics, sculpture in bronze and marble, portrait sculpture, carved gemstones and ivory, glass, jewelry and metalwork of bronze and silver. Modern fascination with such objects is due to the exquisite quality of these works and the great range of artwork that was produced. These represent the many and diverse aspects of Roman civilization – from grand public monuments to personal objects of extremely fine craftsmanship. Such objects demonstrate their inspiration from the divine to the profane, and served both Imperial desires and those of the Roman upper classes for luxuria, finely made luxury goods.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

H. Stuart Jones, A catalogue of the ancient sculptures preserved in the municipal collections of Rome : the sculptures of the Palazzo dei Conservatori (Oxford 1926) 236 Cat. no. 31.

M. Bieber, Ancient Copies (New York, 1977), 87, pl. 59, figs. 353-4, (BM 1805,0703.22).

Swiss private collection, Montreux, collected in the 1960s-1980s; thence by descent.

Anonymous sale, Hôtel des Ventes, Geneva, 30 September 2013, lot 224

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