Statue of a Muse

Object Details

Title:

Statue of a Muse

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

Roman

Place(s):

Roman Empire (Place created)

Date:

about 200

Medium:

Marble with polychromy

Dimensions:

97.5 x 29.1 x 19.5 cm (38 3/8 x 11 7/16 x 7 11/16 in.)

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This statue young woman wearing a long robe with a mantle wrapped around her shoulders and lower body represents a Muse, one of the goddesses of learning and the arts. The statue was part of a group of Muses and other deities that probably decorated a building devoted to the cult of a Roman emperor. Traces of paint on the hair, eyes, and lips show that the statue was originally brightly painted. The statue's roughly finished back indicates that it probably stood in a niche.

Which of the nine Muses does this statue represent? In Roman art, the individual Muses were originally identified by the attributes they held. In this case, however, the arms of the statue and any attributes she held are gone. Yet there remain some features that help to identify her. Her left arm is bent and probably held a large object, because the stump of a support strut remains on her left breast. Given the range of possible attributes, this suggests that she was holding a kithara. On the Muse's right hip, there are traces of a plektron, the pick used to play this stringed instrument. Roman sculptors portrayed both Erato–the Muse of lyric and love poetry–and Terpsichore–the Muse of dancing and choral song–holding a kithara.

Provenance
- 1968

Private Collection [sold, Antiquities, Sotheby's, London, November 26, 1968, lot 174, to J. Paul Getty.]

Bibliography

Bacon, Edward. "The Lure of the Past." The London Illustrated News (June 8, 1968): 33-34. p. 33, ill.

Sotheby's, London. Sale cat., November 26, 1968. lot no. 174.

Vermeule, Cornelius, and Norman Neuerberg. Catalogue of the Ancient Art in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Malibu: 1973. p. 20-21, no. 40, ill.

Agar, Ozgen, and Melik Kaylan. "The Turkish Connection. An Investigative Report on the Smuggling of Classical Antiquities." Connoisseur (October 1990): 130-137. p. 137; color ill. on cover and p. 131.

Mitchell, Stephen. Cremna in Pisidia: An Ancient City in Peace and in War. London 1995. pp. 16, 55.

Willers, Dietrich. "Das ende der antiken Idealstatue," Museum Helveticun 53 (1996), pp. 170-186. pp. 183-84, fig. 3.