Statuette of a Bull

Object Details


Statuette of a Bull






Italy (Place Created)


25 B.C.–A.D. 79


Silver with gilding

Object Number:



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

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A solid-cast statuette of a bull stands firmly on three legs with his left front hoof raised. His head is lifted and turned slightly to the left. The naturalistic modelling of the bull’s anatomy and musculature shows the loose skin under the animal’s neck in a series of pliant folds. The horns curve forward above the projecting ears and the eyes have incised pupils, irises, and lashes. The nostrils in the square snout are carved indentations and the poll is a mass of thick, curling locks. The tail curls back onto the right flank of the beast with the tassel of the tail resting against it. The animal is anatomically correct with genitals and incised ridges of sagging flesh framing the underbelly.  

The image of a powerful bull probably alludes to the god Jupiter, who was associated with the animal and often took its guise in mythological legends. This statuette was most likely made as a votive offering that stood in a lararium—a household shrine that contained small sculptures of protective deities in bronze and sometimes silver. The figure is said to have been found in a house in Pompeii around 1790.

- 1849

Maria Cristina di Borbone-Napoli, Queen of Sardinia, 1779 - 1849, by inheritance to her heirs.
Source: Published in Christie's (1997) as said to have been found at Pompeii circa 1780-1790 and once in the collection of "Maria Cristina di Savoia." The latter has been updated to Maria Cristina di Borbone-Napoli based on Christie's 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)

- 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., eds. 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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