The J. Paul Getty Museum

Statue of a Seated Cybele with the Portrait Head of her Priestess

Object Details

Title:

Statue of a Seated Cybele with the Portrait Head of her Priestess

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Roman

Place:

Roman Empire (Place Created)

Date:

about A.D. 50

Medium:

Marble

Object Number:

57.AA.19

Dimensions:

162 × 70 × 64.5 cm (63 3/4 × 27 9/16 × 25 3/8 in.)

See more

See less

Object Description

Found in Rome in the 1500s, this large statue of a seated woman portrays Cybele, the mother goddess, with many of her attributes, each signifying a different role. She wears a crown in the form of a towered wall, a symbol of her role as protectress of cities. Her right hand holds a bunch of wheat and poppy heads, a symbol of her role as a goddess of agriculture. Her most famous attribute, the lion, sits at her feet, symbolizing her power over wild animals. Under her left arm she holds additional symbols: the rudder and the cornucopia.

This statue's most unusual feature is its face, which belongs to an older Roman matron, not an idealized goddess. Wealthy Roman women would frequently commission portraits of themselves depicted as if they were goddesses. Cybele is an unusual choice, however, which may indicate that this woman was a priestess in the goddess's service.

Cybele's cult was introduced to Rome in 204 B.C. from its home in the Near East. Worship in the cult included ritual flagellation and castration; it was initially discouraged for Roman citizens. By the time this portrait was created, however, many of the cult's wilder aspects had been tamed or eliminated.

Provenance
Provenance
-

Ciriaco Mattei, Italian, 1542 - 1614 (Rome, Italy)

-

Gavin Hamilton, British, 1723 - 1798, sold to George Nugent-Temple-Granville.

by 1788-1813

George Nugent-Temple-Granville, First Marquess of Buckingham, British, 1753 - 1813 (Stowe House, Buckinghamshire, England), by inheritance to his son, Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 1813.

1813 - 1839

Richard Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, first duke of Buckingham and Chandos, English, 1776 - 1839 (Stowe House, Buckinghamshire, England), by inheritance to his son, Richard Plantagenet Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 1839.

1839 - 1848

Richard Plantagenet Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, Second Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, British, 1797 - 1861 (Stowe House, Buckinghamshire, England) [sold, Stowe Collection, Christie and Manson, auction held at Stowe House, October 3, 1848, lot 21 to A. Robertson, Esq.]

after 1848/by 1868 - 1872

William Lowther, second earl of Lonsdale, English, 1787 - 1872 (Lowther Castle, Cumbria, England), by inheritance to his heirs, 1872.

1872 - 1876

Henry Lowther, third earl of Lonsdale, 1818 - 1876, by inheritance to his heirs, 1876.

1876 - 1882

St George Henry Lowther, fourth earl of Lonsdale, 1855 - 1882, by inheritance to his heirs, 1882.

1882 - 1944

Hugh Cecil Lowther, fifth earl of Lonsdale, 1857 - 1944, by inheritance to his heirs, 1944.

1944 - 1947

Lancelot Edward Lowther, sixth earl of Lonsdale, 1867 - 1953 [sold, Maple & Co., Ltd., and Thomas Wyatt, F.V.A., Lowther Castle, Lowther Castle, near Penrith, Cumberland : catalogue of the third series, on Tuesday, April 29th, 1947 and two following days, May 1, 1947, lot 2346.]

- 1957

K. J. Hewett, British, 1919 - 1994 (Bogg Farm, Ashford, Kent, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum through Spink & Son, Ltd., 1957.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
I, Claudia: Women in Ancient Rome (September 6, 1996 to June 15, 1997)
  • Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven), September 6 to December 1, 1996
  • San Antonio Museum of Art (San Antonio), December 22, 1996 to March 2, 1997
  • North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh), April 6 to June 15, 1997
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
Bibliography
Bibliography

Venuti, Ridolfino. Vetera Monumenta quae in hortis Caelimontanis et in aedibus Matthaeiorum adservantur, nunc primum in unum collecta et adnotationibus illustrata a Rodulphino Venuti et a Johannes Christophoro Amadutius, 3 vols. Rome: 1776-1779 (vols 2 and 3 entitled Vetera Mounumenta Matthaeiorum), vol. I, pl. 23.

Seeley, B. Stowe : a description of the house and gardens of the most noble and puissant prince, George Grenville Nugent Temple, Marquis of Buckingham, Earl Temple, Viscount and Baron Cobham. (Buckingham: B. Seeley, 1788), p. 38.

Forster, Henry Ramsey. The Stowe Catalogue, Priced and Annotated (London: 1848), p. 264, no. 21.

Matz, Friedrich."Antikensammlungen in England." Archäologische Zeitung 31 (1874), p. 28.

Michaelis, Adolf. "Die Privatsammlungen antiker Bildwerke in England." Archaeologische Zeitung 32 (1875), p. 42, no. 5 (under Lowther Castle).

Michaelis, Adolf Theodor Friedrich. Ancient Marbles in Great Britain (Cambridge: University Press, 1882), p. 498, no. 68.

Reinach, Salomon. Repertoire de la statuaire grecque et romaine. 6 vols. (Paris: E. Leroux, 1897-1930), vol. 1 (1897), p. 183, no. 2.

Maple & Co., Ltd. and Thomas Wyatt, Penrith. Lowther Castle, Near Penrith, Cumberland: Catalogue of the Third Series, on Tuesday, April 29th, 1947 and Two Following Days Addenda, Third Series. April 29 - May 1, 1947, lot 2346.

Bulletin of the J. Paul Getty Museum of Art (Malibu: 1957), Vermeule, Cornelius C. "A Statue of a Roman Lady of the First Century as Cybele," pp. 22-25; fig. 10.

Vermeule, Cornelius C., and Dietrich von Bothmer. "Notes on a New Edition of Michaelis' Ancient Marbles in Britain. Part Three: 2." American Journal of Archaeology 63 (1959), pp. 329-348, p. 334, under "Lowther Castle.".

Vermeule, Cornelius C. "Greek and Roman Portraits in North American Collections Open to the Public," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 108 (1964), pp. 99-134, p. 106; fig. 18.

Stothart, Herbert. A Handbook of the Sculpture in the J. Paul Getty Museum. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1965), p. 16, no. A57.S-14, pl. 8.

Getty, J. Paul. The Joys of Collecting (New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1965), p. 75, ill.

Bieber, Margarete. The Statue of Cybele in the J. Paul Getty Museum. (Malibu, The J. Paul Getty Museum: Publication No. 3, 1968).

Bieber, Margarete. "The Images of Cybele in Roman Coins and Sculpture," Hommages a Marcel Renard. Collection Latomus, vol. 102 (1969), pp. 29-40, pp. 39-40; pl. XVII, figs. 7a-b.

Vermeule, Cornelius, and Norman Neuerberg. Catalogue of the Ancient Art in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1973), pp. 27-28, no. 58, ill.

Winkes, Rolf."Physiognomonia: Probleme der Charakterinterpretation Romischer Portrats." In Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt : Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung, I. Von den Anfängen Roms bis zum Ausgang der Republik, vol. 4. Hildegard Temporini, ed. (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1973), pp. 922-923, pl. 26.

Fredericksen, Burton B., ed. The J. Paul Getty Museum: Greek and Roman Antiquities, Western European Paintings, French Decorative Arts of the Eighteenth Century (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975), pp. 21, 46.

Vermaseren, Maarten Jozef. Corpus Cultus Cybelae Attisque III. (Leiden: Brill, 1977), pp. 84-85, no. 311; pl. 177.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 4th ed. Sandra Morgan, ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978), pp. 52-53, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook. 5th ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), p. 40.

Vermeule, Cornelius C. Greek and Roman Sculpture in America (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1981), p. 294, no. 250.

Wrede, Henning. Consecratio in Formam Deorum: Vergöttliche Privatpersonen in der römischen Kaiserzeit (Mainz: P. von Zabern, 1981), pp. 220-21, cat. no. 78; pl. 9,3.

Frel, Jirí. In collaboration with Sandra Knudsen Morgan. Roman Portraits in the Getty Museum. Exh. cat. for "Caesars and Citizens," Philbrook Art Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 26-July 12, 1981, pp. 42-43, 123, no. 28, ill.

Sande, Siri. "Romische Frauenportrats mit Mauerkrone," Acta Ad Archaeologiam et Artium Historiam Pertinenta 5 (1985), pp. 151-245, pp. 226-27, ill. fig. 29-30.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 1st ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), p. 36.

Herrmann, Jr. J.J. "Exportation of Dolomitic Marble from Thasos: Evidence from European and North American Collections." In Ancient Stones: Quarrying, Trade and Provenance. Marc Waelkens et al., eds. (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1992), p. 94.

Smith, Amy C. "Queens and Empresses as Goddesses: The Public Role of the Personal Tyche in the Graeco-Roman World," An Obsession with Fortune: Tyche in Greek and Roman Art. Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin. New Haven: 1994, p. 96, fig. 65.

Winkes, Rolf. Livia, Octavia, Iulia: Portraets und Darstellungen. Providence, Rhode Island, and Louvain, Belgium: 1995, p. 202, no. 171.

Quenemoen, Caroline Kerrigan. Claudia in the Classroom. A Secondary Teachers' Curriculum Guide to I Claudia: Women in Ancient Rome, an Exhibition Organized by the Yale University Art Gallery. New Haven: 1997, pp. 43-44; fig. 47.

Simon, Erika. "Kybele." In Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae VIII (1997), pp. 744-766, p. 754, no. 54; pl. 511.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 159.

Grossman, Janet Burnett. Looking at Greek and Roman Sculpture in Stone (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003), pp. 15, ill.

Takacs, Sarolta A. Vestal Virgins, Sibyls and Matrons (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008), p. 72, fig. 3.2.

Burge, Garry M., Lynn H. Cohick, and Gene L. Green. The New Testament in Antiquity: A Survey of the New Testament within its Cultural Contexts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009), p. 339, b/w ill.

Kampen, Natalie, Family Fictions in Roman Art (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 29, 31, fig. 8.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 156.

Montaño, John Patrick. The Roots of English Colonialism in Ireland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), online book (e-book).

Spinelli, Ambra. "The Getty Cybele: A Roman Portrait of Feminine Virtues." American Journal of Archaeology 121, no. 3 (July 2017), pp. 369-396. pp. 369-396, figs.1-2, 6-7, 11-12, 20.