Preserving a female head in profile to the left, the thick wavy hair pulled back into a chignon and secured with a headband, with luscious locks of hair framing her face and falling onto her elongated neck, her eyes closed as if sleeping.
collection, acquired in Europe in the first half of the 20th century and
brought to South America in 1950-1951; thence by descent
New York, 9 December 2010, lot 189
This marble head with its incredible intricate hair arrangement is unusual, as it depicts a woman with her eyes shut, sleeping. Mythological subjects depicted asleep in Classical sculpture include Ariadne, the Hermaphrodite, Eros and Endymion. It is likely that this woman originally belonged to a large sculpture of just such a mythological subject. The style of the carving indicates a second century AD date. The closest example of a similar period is the Hadrianic sleeping Maenad or Hermaphrodite, at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens (inv. no.261): LIMC Nr. 56i s.v. Hermaphroditos.