15 in. (38.1 cm)
Gift of Edward Klagsbrun and Joan Saslow, in memory of Dr. Henny Durst, 2011 (2011.517)
The god Dionysos is nude except for the characteristic nebris(fawn skin) worn diagonally over his right shoulder. Long locks of hair, originally painted and possibly gilded, fall onto his shoulders and back. The complete figure either held the thyrsus (a ceremonial staff tipped with a pinecone and twined with ivy) in his raised left arm or rested his arm on a tree trunk. This statuette belongs to a series of Roman sculptures that refer back to a Late Classical Greek type. The S-curve and slight twist of the torso to the right, for example, directly quote works by Praxiteles. There is considerable iconographic variation among these Roman statuettes of Dionysos, in the stance, the position of the arms, the presence or absence of a nebris or panther next to the tree support, and other details. The eclectic, classicizing character of the piece, evident in the skillful modeling of the musculature, the polished flesh, and the flat rendering of the animal skin, points to a date in the second century A.D. Young Dionysos enjoyed a resurgent popularity during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117–38). Although it may have had a votive function, the statuette most probably served as decoration.