Marble, pigment; H. 8 1/4 in. (21 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1926 (26.60.27)
This small, delicately carved relief depicts a herm of the god Dionysos in three-quarter view with an elaborate turban and a wreath of grape leaves. In antiquity, such reliefs adorned private Roman houses and gardens where Dionysiac themes created a much-desired milieu of civilized, leisurely enjoyment.
Roman decorative relief sculptures rarely retain any evidence of their original polychromy. On this exceptionally well preserved example, however, considerable amounts of ancient paint remain, indicating that the relief background was blue, the turban was a brilliant pink, and the frame molding was adorned with a reddish pink continuous wave pattern.