Head of young man, fragmentary statue - ROM2018_16403_48


Head of young man, fragmentary statue

Medium:Marble, possibly Pentelic marble
Geography: Acquired in Rome, Italy
Date: late 2nd to early 1st century BC
Period: Hellenistic period
14.5 cm
Object number: 959.17.9
On view
Gallery Location:Gallery of Greece

Head of Young Man

This head is broken off from the body diagonally through the neck. The face is contorted in a grimace of pain and concentration. The expression is rendered with great realism including frown lines and folds and crow's foot wrinkles. Modelling throughout is very fine. The carefully rendered hair is short and curly. The head is both turned to the right and strongly tilted sideways resulting in a pronounced asymmetry of the face. The strong downward bend of the head suggests that the figure, when complete, was in a seated position, concentrating on the action of the hands. It has proposed by Leipen (1980) that the seated figure was that of a Thornpuller or "Spinario." 

In the course of the Hellenistic period the popular theme of the "Spinaro" underwent several stylistic phases of representation, from the original realistic and simple Spinario of the 3rd century BC such as the Castellani copy in the British Museum (A.H.Smith, Cat. of Sculpture 3 (1904) no.1755, pl.8) to a caricatured version such as seen in the terracotta Spinario from Priene of about 100 BC or somewhat later (T. Wiegand and H. Schrader, Priene (1904) 357, figs. 434-435):  the elegant classicistic version in the Conservatori (Helbig, 2, 267 no. 1448) of the Augustan period harks back to the 5th century BC in order to give the theme a new dignity. 

The somewhat dry and crisp manner of carving in this ROM version points to a bronze original which may well have been made in Ptolemaic Alexandria, Egypt.

Roman World
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