A Bronze Chariot Fitting With Minerva Bust
Roman, ca. 150-250 C.E. Please have a look at this wonderful and heavy Roman bronze. 12.5 cm, width 7.5 cm, length 9.5 cm. This is a chariot fitting in the form of a bust of a woman, who is probably the goddess Minerva: she is wearing an aegis with gorgoneion (an important apotropaion) and an ornamented helmet. She has long hair and large eyes, the pupils of which are drilled. The bronze was a finial, once adorning the end of a chariot pole as a cap. After the pole was inserted into the rectangular extension, the bronze was secured by a pin which was pushed through the holes in the extension and a corresponding hole in the pole. Complete examples including the (rectangular or round) attachment part on the back side are rare.
For other finials see the book by Menzel mentioned below. For yet another one, decorated with a triton and with a round attachment see the British Museum, inv. GR 1896.5-418.8, BM Cat Bronzes 2696. For an ancient model of a biga (two-horse chariot) showing how a finial was attached to the pole see BM 1894.10-30.1, BM Cat Bronzes 2695.
A similar chariot fitting of far less quality, showing the bust of a satyr, was sold at auction for $ 3,760 more than 10 years ago, with an estimate op up to $ 6000 (Christie's New York, Rockefeller Plaza, sale 9380 of 13 June 2000, lot 318).
Provenance: Collection De Mateis, Lugano, Switzerland.
Literature: Heinz Menzel, Die römischen Bronzen aus Deutschland, Band III: Bonn (Rheinisches Landesmuseum Bonn; Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum zu Mainz. Forschungsinstitut für Vor- und Frühgeschichte) (Mainz am Rhein, Philipp von Zabern, 1986), p. 164 ff, pl. 140 ff, esp. no. 472. For the style also p. 81, no 201 and pl 93. For decorative busts see also Beryl Barr-Sharrar, The Hellenistic and Early Imperial Decorative Bust (Mainz am Rhein, Philipp von Zabern, 1987), p. 123, no H3, pl. 64.
There is a reserve on this lot.
In excellent condition, with a lovely light green patina. Crest of the helmet partly broken off, one very small opening in the helmet (back side, behind the proper right ear).