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This artwork, Roman Marble Torso of Young Dionysos Wearing Panther Skin, is currently for sale at Harlan J. Berk Ltd..
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, Roman Marble Torso of Young Dionysos Wearing Panther Skin
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TITLE:  Roman Marble Torso of Young Dionysos Wearing Panther Skin
WORK DATE:  circa 154 - 284
PERIOD:  3000 B.C.–400 A.D.
CATEGORY:  Sculptures
SIZE:  h: 18.8 x w: 11.5 in / h: 47.8 x w: 29.2 cm
STYLE:  Classical
PRICE*:  45,000 US$  (Convert prices to your currency with our Currency Converter)
GALLERY:  Harlan J. Berk Ltd.  +1-312-609-0016  Send Email
DESCRIPTION:  This torso of a youthful nude male shows the god of wine carrying a drinking cup in his right hand. The upper part of the vessel is missing, but it probably had two vertical handles, making it a kantharos, the characteristic cup of Dionysos. The god wears his pantherskin like a sash across his chest. One paw hangs down onto the god’s belly. The skin is characterized as that of a panther not only by the claw but also by the circular spots incised into its surface. The god’s long hair falls onto his shoulders in back. A flowering ivy vine, one of the characteristic plants of Dionysos, climbs the pillar beside the god’s right leg. In his missing left hand the god would have held his thyrsos, a staff of fennel topped with a pinecone or a cluster of leaves. It is relatively rare for Dionysos to be shown wearing his pantherskin across his chest, but it is even rarer for the god to be shown in such a flat and linear style. Traditional Classical illusionism, with its rich modulations of surface and contrasts of light and shadow, has given way to simple contours, sharp outlines, and closed, almost geometric surfaces. This style of representation is known from a multitude of grave and votive reliefs from Phrygia in the mountainous interior of western Turkey. It is clear that this style is a kind of folk art contemporary with the more conventional classicism of the coasts of the Mediterranean. Guntram Koch has brought together examples that are dated by inscription from 154 to 284 C.E. (Roman Funerary Monuments in the J. Paul Getty Museum I, Malibu 1990, 115-132). Freestanding sculptures of Classical subjects in this stylized, linear manner are rarer. This sculpture may not come from Phrygia itself. The grayish marble from which it is carved is unlike the fine-grained almost pure white marble characteristic of Phrygia, which stems from the important quarries of Dokimeion (near modern Afyon). The sculptor apparently moved beyond his native area to an adjoining region, choosing a marble more readily available there. One of the special attractions of this statuette is the beautifully preserved surface. One can easily see that the sculpture was finished with claw chisels. A fine chisel was used for the god’s body, and a slightly coarser one was used for the panther skin, as if to create a contrast of texture. The chisel used for the back of the pillar was coarser still. The absence of polish suggests that the sculpture may have been shipped from the sculptor’s studio to a relatively distant destination. Sculpture may often have been polished only at its final destination. This is am impeccable sculpture in wonderful condition other than the obvious breaks
ONLINE CATALOGUE(S):  Harlan J. Berk Inventory Catalogue
LITERATURE:  Essay by: John J. Herrmann, Jr. Curator of Classical Art, Emeritus Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
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