Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Bronze statuette of a philosopher on a lamp stand

Period:
Early Imperial, Augustan
Date:
late 1st century B.C.
Culture:
Roman
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
Overall: 10 3/4 in., 2.9kg (27.3 cm, 6.4lb.)
Classification:
Bronzes
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1910
Accession Number:
10.231.1
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 162
Adaptation of a Greek statue of the 3rd century B.C.

Among the preserved monuments of ancient art, there is no more sympathetic portrait of the Greek intellectual than this bronze statuette of a philosopher. The individualized appearance of the entire figure, and the successful portrayal of a thoughtful visage in particular, link this image with the philosopher portraits that became popular early in the Hellenistic period.

The subject of this portrait can be identified as a member of the Epicurean school of philosophy. Epicuros (341-270 B.C.) and his followers believed that in the uncertain circumstances of the world, each man should seek to attain pleasure and peace in his life, but that effort must be guided by the principles of moderation and harmony with nature. Epicuros's writings enjoyed great popularity during his life and after, and he was especially beloved in Rome. By the late first century B.C., the Epicurean attainment of pleasure applied mostly to eating and drinking, and the principle of moderation was less significant, as is evident in the proudly displayed fat belly and uninhibited self-satisfied demeanor of this portrait. Two hooks attached to the Ionic capital on which the figure stands would have served to suspend lamps. The fact that this figure was the crowning element of a lamp stand may well indicate that this statuette is not a true portrait but rather a typical Epicurean of the first century B.C.
Richter, Gisela M. A. 1911. "Statuette of Hermarchos." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 6(6): pp. 130-4.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1915. Greek, Etruscan and Roman Bronzes. no. 120, pp. 70-74, New York: Gilliss Press.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1917. Handbook of the Classical Collection. p. 155, fig. 98, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1927. Handbook of the Classical Collection. pp. 192-93, fig. 131, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1930. Handbook of the Classical Collection. pp. 192-93, fig. 131, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

McClees, Helen and Christine Alexander. 1933. The Daily Life of the Greeks and Romans: As Illustrated in the Classical Collections, 5th ed. p. 61, fig. 76, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1936[1934]. A Guide to the Collections, Part 1: Ancient and Oriental Art, 2nd edn. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

McClees, Helen and Christine Alexander. 1941. The Daily Life of the Greeks and Romans: As Illustrated in the Classical Collections, 5th ed. p. 61, fig. 76, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1950. The Sculpture and Sculptors of the Greeks, 3rd edn. pp. 84, 424, 427, figs. 230-31, 24, New Haven: Yale University Press.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1953. Handbook of the Greek Collection. pp. 124, 263, pl. 103a, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Robertson, Martin and Cambridge University Press. 1975. A History of Greek Art, Vols. 1 and 2. p. 524, pl. 158b, Cambridge, England.

von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1978. Antichnoe iskusstvo iz muzeia Metropoliten, Soedinennye Shtaty Ameriki: Katalog vystavki. no. 71, pl. 17, Moscow: Sovetskii Khudozhnik.

Reinsberg, Carola. 1980. Studien zur hellenistischen Toreutik: Die antiken Gipsabgüsse aus Memphis, Hildesheimer ägyptologische Beiträge, Vol. 9. pp. 137, 142, 155, n. 485, Hildesheim: Gerstenberg Verlag.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1987. Greece and Rome. p. 10, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Haff, Ralf von den. 1994. Philosophenporträts des Früh- und Hochhellenismus, Biering and Brinkmann, ed. pp. 124 n. 58, 61; 135 n. 69, 71; 171 ff., 193 n. 208-15., München.

Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 258, pp. 221, 455, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Bol, Peter C. 2007. Die Geschichte der antiken Bildhauerkunst III: Hellenistische Plastik. pp. 106f., 108, 110, 114, 122f., 126, 132, 135, 158, 166f., 175f., 179f., 187, pl. 130, Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern.

Daehner, Jens M. and Dr. Kenneth Lapatin. 2015. Potere e Pathos: Bronzi del Mondo Ellenistico p. 102-3, fig. 7.4, Firenze: Giunti.

Daehner, Jens M. and Dr. Kenneth Lapatin. 2015. Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World p. 102-3, fig. 7.4, Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum.

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