Figure of Mercury, messenger god and patron of commerce - ROM2010_11488_93


Figure of Mercury, messenger god and patron of commerce

Medium:Cast bronze
Geography: Attributed to Rome, Italy
Date: c. 25-50 AD
Period: Roman Imperial period
15 x 7.5 cm
Object number: 925.83.3
On view
Gallery Location:Eaton Gallery of Rome: bronze sculpture

Bronze Statuettes for Roman Household Shrines

The Roman era witnessed a great increase in the making of small-scale bronze statuettes, compared to the lesser numbers produced during the Hellenistic (Greek) period. Roman bronzes were easily transportable, widely coveted, and carried to all corners of the Empire. Therefore, determining a bronze's place of production can be difficult today.

Statuettes in the Imperial West were used mainly as cult images in the household shrine, called a lararium. These shrines take their name from the household deities, the Lares. But other deities were also featured, such as the patron of commerce, Mercury.

Famous full-size masterpieces of Greek sculpture could be adapted and reduced in size, including the statuette of Mercury on display here--a superb bronze based on Polycleitus' Doryphoros of the 5th century BC.

Roman World
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