Ancient Near East, Palmyra, ca. 2nd to 3rd century CE. Carved in the round from a single block of limestone, a very attractive head of an individual of import donning a wreath set with a large, oval 'jewel' above his forehead. His visage is skillfully delineated with prominent almond-shaped eyes gently dipping at the inner canthi and detailed with generous lids, irises, and pupils, arched brows above, an aquiline yet naturalistic nose, a closed mouth with full lips, delicately rendered facial planes, and a chiseled chin and jawline rising from his slender neck. Contributing to his beauty is a full head of hair, corkscrew curls framing his forehead and wavy locks rippling away from his face. Size: 9.25" W x 11.875" H (23.5 cm x 30.2 cm); 18.25" H (46.4 cm) on included custom stand.
A distinct regional version of Roman funerary busts emerged in Palmyra. The figures and their elaborate ornamentation exemplified an attractive fusion of Western and Eastern influences. Palmyrene sculpture was made from a stone that is largely nonreflective - usually limestone as we see in this example; however, the ancient Palmyrene sculptors excelled at sharp, angular chisel work that resulted in strong patterns which made for dramatic silhouettes and shadows. Just imagine this piece in its dark, shadowy tomb environment - lit by candlelight so that its intricate surface patterns would come to life as it were, the smooth facial contours contrasting with the darkness surrounding it - quite a vision indeed!
A Palmyrene limestone female head sold at Sotheby's, New York in 2015 for $37,500. Follow this link for the listing - http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2015/antiquities-n09362/lot.27.html
A Palymrene limestone male head sold at Christie's, New York in 2008 for $32,5000. Follow this link for the listing - http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/ancient-art-antiquities/a-palmyrene-limestone-head-of-a-man-5078832-details.aspx?from=searchresults&intObjectID=5078832&sid=b13c79c7-a0ec-4cd9-9dd2-211179252793
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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