Marble bust of a youth


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 171

The bust may be seen as a funerary portrait. The unusual addition of the lion’s skin, associated with the semi-divine Hercules (Herakles), between the bust and the circular base probably signifies the parents’ wish to glorify their son. Moreover, he is unclothed in a heroic manner. The youth is portrayed as an older boy but his features are still childlike. When acquired by the Museum a century ago, the bust was heavily covered with accretions and was long regarded as authentic. However, after radical cleaning in 1984, the antiquity of the bust was questioned, and it was removed from display. Recent study and re-evaluation, including the identification of the marble as coming from a quarry not far from the city of Aphrodisias in ancient Caria (present-day Turkey), have prompted the sculpture to be reinstated.

Marble bust of a youth, Marble, Roman

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