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Diminutive Imperial Roman Marble Torso of Herakles

Lysippus, court sculptor to Alexander the Great during the third quarter of the Fourth Century BC, is considered to be one of the greatest artists of Classical antiquity. Taught by Aristotle himself, Alexander felt the constant need to be surrounded by material beauty. Perpetually away on military campaigns, he commissioned Lysippus with the task of making artworks that could be moved with the camp, yet still impress upon the viewer all the gravity, pathos and psychological power of life size and even monumental sculptures. Lysippus rose to the challenge by creating his so-called Herakles Epitrapezius (lit., “Table-Top Herakles”). This statue was so acclaimed it gave rise to a genre of such works, whereby a sculptor would attempt to demonstrate his technical prowess by producing his own work of diminutive proportion that yet imbued within the viewer a sense of monumentality and profundity one would normally only associate with an artwork of considerably larger proportions.

2nd Century AD

Head, right arm above the elbow, and legs below the knees are lost; no repair or restoration. 11.5 x 7.8 cm (4 ½ x 3 1/8 inches)


ex: Swiss collection of Elsa Bloch-Diener, Bern, acquired between 1968–1983.

Exhibited: BRAFA Art Fair. (Brussels, 26 Jan- 2 Feb 2020) Published: Antiquarium, Ltd.; Ancient Treasures XIX. (London, 2020) p.33, back cover

Comparandum: Giuliano, Antonio (ed.); Museo Nazionale Romano. Le Sculture. I, 2 (Rome, 1981) no.42, 51

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