Greco-Roman, late Hellenistic to early Roman, ca. 1st century BCE to 1st century CE. A half-life-size, expertly carved marble sculpture of Hades (Pluto), god of the Underworld. He stands, facing forward, dressed in a folded himation belted at his waist, his bare feet exposed. He wears a heavier cloak draped over his shoulder and back in such a way that it creates a triangular fold at the front. The hem of the cloak is decorated with an incised zigzag motif that was originally highlighted with paint. Traces of the god's short, square beard are visible at the base of the neck. One arm rests against his side, while the other is raised and may have once held an implement or made a meaningful gesture - the few known examples of statuary portraying Hades show him with a bident. He stands atop a half-circular plinth that is squared-off in front and rounded in the back. Size: 7.15" L x 11.3" W x 35.75" H (18.2 cm x 28.7 cm x 90.8 cm)
Marble statuary, reliefs, and cladding were ubiquitous in the Roman world, as the remains of the preserved cities at Herculaneum and Pompeii demonstrate. Their sculpture was intended to conjure human vitality, and was inspired by the works of Polykleitos, who became the model to which sculptors aspired in Greco-Roman as well as later Western European art. Greco-Roman statuary, unlike that of the other Mediterranean civilizations like Egypt, Persia, etc., celebrated the naturalistic human form. This included representations of their gods, like this one, who appear as if living people, dressed as if they are elite citizens. For example, the famous statue of Hades with Cerberus, his three-headed dog, today on display at the Archaeological Museum of Crete, has an extremely realistic quality despite its fantastical nature, down to the details on each dog head. This suggests an intriguing, more personal relationship with the gods rather than the more abstract or magical portrayals of other contemporary societies. This statue likely once featured as the centerpiece of an altar inside a temple, where cult statues of deities served as focal points for worship.
See a very similar statue set in a base with a dedicatory inscription to Hades published in Luciano Laurenzi, "Monumenti di scultura del museum archeologico di Rodi et dell'antiquarium di Coo", Clara Rhodos 5, 1932, fig. 56, pp. 185-189.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-William Froelich collection, New York, USA, collected in the 1960s; purchased from Mathias Komor, New York, USA, 1965
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