The J. Paul Getty Museum

Infant Bacchus

Object Details

Title:

Infant Bacchus

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Roman

Date:

1st century A.D.

Medium:

Bronze with silver and copper

Object Number:

96.AB.53

Dimensions:

64 × 33.5 × 17.8 cm (25 3/16 × 13 3/16 × 7 in.)

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Object Description

The wreath of ivy leaves and berries encircling this chubby toddler’s head identify him as the wine god Bacchus (previously identified as Cupid). The son of Jupiter and the mortal woman Semele, Bacchus was raised by nymphs in a mountain cave in the mythical land of Nysa. The objects he may have been carrying in his outstretched hands are now missing, but he probably once held a drinking cup. The young god wears a leafy wreath entwined with a fillet, or ribbon, the copper ends of which fall over his shoulders. The hollowed-out irises of his eyes would have been inlaid with colored stone or glass and the whites covered in silver.

In the Hellenistic period, the creation of genre scenes led to an interest in depicting children, which in turn inspired images of the gods and heroes as infants. Roman artists continued this practice, with Bacchus a favorite among these representations. Bronze statues like this one were popular decorative additions to the gardens and courtyards of Roman houses.

Provenance
Provenance
- 1987

Robin Symes Ltd. (London, England), sold to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, 1987.

1987 - 1996

Barbara Fleischman and Lawrence Fleischman, American, 1925 - 1997 (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
A Passion for Antiquities: Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman (October 13, 1994 to April 23, 1995)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), October 13, 1994 to January 15, 1995
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland), February 14 to April 23, 1995
Beyond Beauty: Antiquities as Evidence (December 16, 1997 to January 17, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to January 17, 1999
Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004
Classical Connections: The Enduring Influence of Greek and Roman Art (December 16, 2003 to November 9, 2008)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 16, 2003 to November 9, 2008
Aphrodite and the Gods of Love (March 28, 2012 to May 26, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), March 28 to July 9, 2012
Bibliography
Bibliography

True, Marion, and Kenneth Hamma, eds. A Passion For Antiquities. Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, exh. cat. (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994), pp. 282-84, cat. no. 144.

Mattusch, Carol. The Fire of Hephaistos: Large Classical Bronzes from North American Collections, exh. cat. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Art Museums,1996), cat. no. 26 (as Fleischman Coll.).

"Museum Acquisitions Between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 1998." The Report of the J. Paul Getty Trust (1997-98), p. 66.

Maish, J. "Radiographic Examination of Ancient Bronzes: the Applicability of Industrial Casting Methods," From the Parts to the Whole. Acta of the 13th International Bronze Congress, May 28-June 1, 1996. Portsmouth, R.I.: 2000. Vol. 1, pp. 207-214, figs. 2, 6, and 7.

Hemingway, S., E. Milleker, and R. E. Stone, “The Early Imperial Bronze Statue of a Boy in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Technical and Stylistic Analysis.” In I Bronzi Antichi: Produzione e tecnologia: Atti del XV Congresso Internazionale sui Bronzi Antichi, Grado-Aquileia, 22–26 maggio 2001, ed. A. Giumlia-Mair, 200–207. Monographies instrumentum 21. Montagnac: Editions Monique Mergoil, p. 203.

Simon, Erika. "Lychnouchos Platonikos," in: Rites et cultes dans le monde antique (Cahiers de la Villa 'Kerylos', no. 12, Beaulieu-sur-Mer) Paris: 2002, pp. 78-95, figs. 1-6.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 181.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 17, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 182.

Peltz, Uwe, and Hans-Joachim Schalles, Der Xantener Knabe: Technologie, Ikonographie, Funktion und Datierung. Xantener Berichte 22 (Mainz: Philipp von Zabern, 2011), pp. 99-100, figs. 16-17.