Robin Symes Ltd. (London, England), sold to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, 1987.
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Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 211, The Roman Villa
1st century A.D.
Bronze with silver and copper
64 × 33.5 × 17.8 cm (25 3/16 × 13 3/16 × 7 in.)
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.
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