AN IMPORTANT IMPERIAL ROMAN CAST BRONZE FIGURE OF MITHRAS PERFORMING THE TAUROCTONY

Mithras would have held the bull steady with his right hand, while preparing to plunge a sword into the beast with his raised left hand. He appears nude, save the chlamys draped over his left arm, and his Phrygian cap, indicative of his Eastern origins. Closer inspection of Mithras’ cap reveal it is covered with incised stars. Further, a socket at the top would have accommodated an attribute, likely a crescent moon. Long misattributed as figures of the Dioscuri, Mars or Perseus, sculptures of Mithras, stars literally wrapped about his head, served to accommodate a complex, decidedly anti-Classical iconographic program within the established and traditional Classical idiom of sculpture in the round.

Height: 18.2 cm. (7 3/16 in.)

Width: 9 cm. (3 9/16 in.)

#9766

Ex: European private collection 1980s or earlier. European market by 1991. London private collection of Messrs. S.S. & S.G., 2005–2008.

Published: Antiquarium; Ancient Treasures XX. (London, 2022) pp.32-33 Antiquarium Ltd.; Myth and Majesty (New York, 1992) no.31

Comparanda: Bastet, F. L; Corpus signorum classicorum Musei Antiquarii Lugduno-Batavi (Zutphen, 1982) no.430 Kaschnitz von Weinberg, Guido; Sculture del magazzino del Museo Vaticano (Città del Vaticano, 1936-1937) nos. 139, 140, 147, 150, 211 The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri acc. no. 33.1533