By the second century A.D., Serapis had become one of the most popular deities in the Roman Empire. Many images of the god took the form of portable busts, suitable for dedication or for private worship. Silver busts of Serapis are mentioned in an inscription found in Rome, but this is apparently the only extant example. The modius (grain basket) always shown on the god’s head is now missing.
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Title:Silver bust of Serapis
Date:2nd century CE
Dimensions:6 1/8 x 3 3/4 in. (15.6 x 9.5 cm)
Classification:Gold and Silver
Credit Line:Gift of Jan Mitchell and sons, 1991
Said to be from Egypt (Galerie Georges Petit, 1925, p. 10, lot 7)
Until 1925, collection of Joseph Durighiello; June 20, 1925, purchased by A. De Nanteuil from Galerie Georges Petit, Paris; 1925-1966, collection of A. De Nanteuil; June 13, 1966, purchased by Jan Mitchell from Sotheby's, London; 1966-1991, collection of Jan Mitchell, New York; acquired in April 1991, gift of Jan Mitchell and sons, New York.
Galerie Georges Petit. June 20, 1925. Collection Joseph Durighiello. Catalogues des Objets d’art. Antiques Egyptiens, Grecs, Romains et autres,. lot 7, pl. ix.
Sotheby's, London. 1966. Highly Important Egyptian, Western Asiatic, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities. July 13, 1966. lot 129.
Hornbostel, Wilhelm. 1973. Sarapis: Studien zur Überlieferungsgeschichte, den Erscheinungsformen und Wandlungen der Gestalt eines Gottes. pp. 190 n. 5, 460, pl. 73, fig. 131, Leiden: Brill.
Vermeule, Cornelius V. 1974. Greek and Roman Sculpture in Gold and Silver. no. 31, p. 13, Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Oliver, Andrew Jr. 1977. Silver for the Gods : 800 Years of Greek and Roman Silver. no. 105
, p. 159, Toledo, Ohio: Toledo Museum of Art.
Picón, Carlos A., Elizabeth J. Milleker, and Joan R. Mertens. 1991. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1990–1991." Bulletin of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 49(2): p. 9.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1991. "One Hundred Twenty-first Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1990 through June 30, 1991." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 121: p. 32.
Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 458, pp. 393, 495, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Zanker, Paul, Seán Hemingway, Christopher S. Lightfoot, and Joan R. Mertens. 2019. Roman Art : A Guide through the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Collection. no. 125, pp. 256–57, New York: Scala Publishers.
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The Museum's collection of Greek and Roman art comprises more than 30,000 works ranging in date from the Neolithic period to the time of the Roman emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity in A.D. 312.