Roman; copy of a Greek work of the 2nd century b.c.
Marble, pigment, gilding; H. 11 7/8 in. (30.3 cm)
Purchase, Anonymous Gift, in memory of Professor Charles M. Edwards, 1992 (1992.11.66)
This type of head is known from four other Roman copies and a finely carved marble head found on the south slope of the Athenian Acropolis in 1886, which is often thought to be the original Greek work. The head of the Acropolis statue is turned upward and tilted to its right. It preserves vestiges of the figure's right hand, which was raised to the cheek in a gesture of pathos. This expression and the fillet worn over the forehead, associated with Dionysos and banqueters, may represent either the god of wine himself or his consort, Ariadne.
This head is the only replica of this type known to preserve evidence of its original polychromy. The flesh areas retain a fine, lustrous polish, a hallmark of high-end Roman workmanship. The fillet was painted red; the hair was gilded over a yellow ground and then embellished with red painting; and the lips, eyes, eyebrows, and eyelashes were all locally defined with red paint. The irises, eyelashes, and eyebrows may have originally been gilded, as evident in other Roman marble works. These remains of ancient polychromy suggest the brilliant, often sumptuous, appearance of marble sculpture in antiquity.