Statuette of a Bull

Object Details


Statuette of a Bull






Roman Empire (Place created)
Pompeii (said to be), Italy (Place found)


100 B.C. - A.D. 79


Silver with gilding


14 × 4.5 × 14.2 cm (5 1/2 × 1 3/4 × 5 9/16 in.)

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This statuette of a powerful bull standing with his head raised and eyes bulging may have been made as an offering to the god Jupiter, who often took the guise of a bull in mythological legends. The bull is believed to have been found in Pompeii. If so, it would have been part of a wealthy Pompeiian family's household shrine, or lararium. Adorned with statuettes or painted images of gods, goddesses, and other deities, the shrine was the center of the Roman home. In it, household members made daily offerings to their gods for the protection of the family.

The artist's naturalistic modelling of the bull's anatomy shows the loose skin under the animal's neck in a series of pliant folds. The horns curve forward above the ears and the eyes have incised pupils, irises, and lashes. Ridges of sagging flesh frame the underbelly of the anatomically correct statuette.


Found: Pompeii (said to be), Italy

- 1849

Maria Cristina di Borbone-Napoli, Queen of Sardinia, 1779 - 1849, by inheritance to her heirs.
Source: Listed in the Christie’s sale catalogue, May 30, 1997, as “Maria Cristina di Savoia,” but updated to Maria Cristina di Borbone-Napoli on account of the subsequent provenance.

- 1931

Tommaso di Savoia, 1854-1931, by inheritance to his daughter, Maria Adelaide di Savoia, 1931.

by 1931

Maria Adelaide di Savoia, Italian, 1904 - 1979


Vgs Parsi di Lodrone (near Venice, Italy)


Private Collection (Switzerland)


Kojiro Ishiguro, 1916 - 1992 (Tokyo, Japan)


Sogo Life K.K. (Japan)

- 1997

Private Collection [sold, Antiquities, Christie's, New York, May 30, 1997, lot 174, to Robin Symes.]

1997 - 2001

Robin Symes, Limited (London, England), by exchange with the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001.

Pompeii and the Roman Villa (October 19, 2008 to October 4, 2009) (LACMA Only)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles), May 3 to October 4, 2009
The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection (September 12, 2012 to July 7, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), September 12, 2012 to January 7, 2013

Christie's, New York. Sale cat., May 30, 1997, lot 174.

Robin Symes, Ltd., New York. Bull Leapers to Picasso. Exh. cat., December 6-16, 2000. Unpaged, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 196.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 39, ill.

Mattusch, Carol C., et al. Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture around the Bay of Naples, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, with Thames & Hudson, 2008), p. 126, fig. 3.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 207.

Di Mauro, Alberto. Italy Art LA, educational brochure (Los Angeles: Italian Cultural Institute of Los Angeles, 2012), p. 25.

Sofroniew, Alexandra. Household Gods: Private Devotion in Ancient Greece and Rome (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), p. 41, fig. 20.

Lapatin, Kenneth. Luxus: The Sumptuous Arts of Greece and Rome (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), pp. 100, 241, pl. 74.

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