The J. Paul Getty Museum

Balsamarium in the Form of a Boxer's Head

Object Details

Title:

Balsamarium in the Form of a Boxer's Head

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Greco-Roman

Place:

Eastern Mediterranean, Egypt (?) (Place Created)

Date:

A.D. 1–100

Medium:

Bronze with silver

Object Number:

2007.14

Dimensions:

17.1 × 15 cm (6 3/4 × 5 7/8 in.)

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Object Description

Wearing a tight leather helmet, this ancient boxer grimaces fiercely and aggressively confronts the viewer. A curled lip reveals the gaps of missing teeth. His expression causes muscles in his face to stand out along his jaw, cheeks, neck, temples and forehead. His cheeks are clean-shaven, but small tufts of hair bristle at the corners of his mouth. Originally, his eyes and teeth were inlaid with silver, and a handle was attached to the holes on either side of his head.

The vessel served as a balsamarium or situla, a container for holding ointments or oils. Athletes often used such unguents after practice or competition, and so the head of a boxer is an especially appropriate choice for this type of vessel. Though the face looks distinctive, it is best seen as a generic image or type. If offers a stereotyped, or perhaps even exaggerated, depiction of an experienced boxer.

Provenance
Provenance
- 1888

Henri Hoffmann, 1823 - 1897 (Paris, France) [sold, Catalogue des objets d'art antiques, vases peints, marbres, bronzes, argenterie, poids grecs, ivoires, expert M.H. Hoffmann, Hotel Drouot, Paris, lot 416.]

by 1892 - 1898

Count Michel Tyszkiewicz, Polish, 1828 - 1897 (Paris, France) [sold, Collection d'antiquites du Comte Michel Tyszkiewicz, Hotel Drouot, Paris, June 8-10, 1898, lot 153.]

1898 -

Henri Hoffmann, 1823 - 1897 (Paris, France)

-

Gawain McKinley, 1945 - 1996 (France)

- 2003

or Thomas Howard Sneyd (London, England), sold to Dr. David Greenberg, 2003.

2003-2007

Dr David Greenberg (Chicago, Illinois), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
The Burlington International Fine Art Fair (September 28 to October 12, 1979)
  • Burlington Fine Arts Club (London), September 28 to October 12, 1979
Bibliography
Bibliography

Hotel Drouot, Paris. Catalogue des Objets D'Art Antiques, par W. Froehner. May 28-29, 1888, p. 113, lot 416, plate XXXII.

Froehner, Wilhelm. La Collection Tyszkiewicz: choix de monuments antiques (Munich: Verlagsanstalt fur kunst und Wissenschaft, 1892), pp. 34-35, pl. 36.

Hotel des Commissaires-Priseurs, Paris. Collection D'Antiquites du Comte Michel Tyszkiewicz. June 8-10, 1898, p. 55, lot 153, plate XIX.

Boucher, Stéphanie. Recherches sur les bronzes figurés de Gaule pré-romaine et romaine. (Paris: Diffusion de Boccard, 1976), pp. 187n66, 392.

René Gott S.A. and Thomas Howard-Sneyd, advertisement. The Burlington International Fine Art Fair. The Burlington Magazine, vol. 121, no. 918 (1979), n.p., ill.

Snitkuvienė, Aldona. Biržų grafai Tiškevičiai ir jų Palikimas. (Kaunas : Nacionalinis M. K. Čiurlionio dailės muziejus, 2008), p. 285, no. 1124, ill.

Tovar, Carrie. "Battered but Unbeaten: A New Getty Acquisition." Apollo 167, iss. 551 (February 2008), pp. 62-67, figs. 1-4.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 196.

Agre, Daniela, Dichev, Deyan and Gennady Agre. "Roman Balsamarium as a Male Head in Feline-Skin Cap from the Territory of Southeast Bulgaria." American Journal of Archaeology 123, no. 4 (2019), 694-695.