Portrait Bust of Menander

Object Details

Title:

Portrait Bust of Menander

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

Roman

Place:

Roman Empire (Place created)

Date:

1 - 25 A.D.

Medium:

Bronze

Dimensions:

17 × 8.1 cm (6 11/16 × 3 3/16 in.)

See more

See less

A Greek inscription on the base of this bust identifies the figure as Menander (about 342-291 B.C.). The portrait, which depicts a clean-shaven, lean-faced man with high cheekbones and a tall, rectangular forehead, is one of more than sixty surviving Roman portraits of the Athenian playwright. All of these appear to derive from a common source, and stylistic features indicate that the model was the head of a statue of Menander made by Kephisodotos the Younger and his brother Timarchos (both active about 340-290 B.C.), sons of the famous Greek sculptor Praxiteles (active 375-340 B.C.). The original statue, now lost, once stood in the Theater of Dionysos in Athens. It was commissioned at the time of his death, and his plays continued to be staged at Athens in revivals.

Menander's comedies, and in turn his portrait, experienced a resurgence of popularity with the Romans. His works were imitated and adapted by playwrights such as Plautus (about 254-184 B.C.) and Terence (about 190-159 B.C.). Portraits of him were often used as decoration in villas, where his presence attested to the owner’s culture and learning.

Provenance
- 1972

Robin Symes, Limited (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1972.

Exhibitions
An Obsession with Fortune: Tyche in Greek and Roman Art (September 1 to December 31, 1994)
  • Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven), September 1 to December 31, 1994
Collector's Choice: J. Paul Getty and His Antiquities (November 18, 2009 to February 8, 2010)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), November 18, 2009 to February 8, 2010
The Art of Ancient Greek Theater (August 26, 2010 to January 3, 2011) (72)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), August 26, 2010 to January 3, 2011
Bibliography

Hamilton, R. W. "Report of the Keeper of the Department of Antiquities for the year 1971-1972," University of Oxford, Ashmolean Museum. Report of the Visitors 1971-1972, pp. 8,14; pl. III.

Ashmole, Bernard. "Menander: An Inscribed Bust." (under "Archaeological Notes"). American Journal of Archaeology 77 (1973): p. 61, p. 61, pls. 11-12.

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), p. 41.

Cristin, Lilli, ed. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975), p. 37.

Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum, rev. ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1976), p. 56; 1978, 4th edition, p. 71.

Weber, H., Spathellenistische Bildniskunst, Jahreshefte des Oesterreichischen archaeologischen Instituts in Wien, vol. 51, 1976-77, Col. 44.

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. 62-63, ill.

Frel, Jiří. Antiquities in the J. Paul Getty Museum: A Checklist; Sculpture II: Greek Portraits and Varia (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, November 1979), p. 9, no. G24.

Vermeule, Cornelius C. Greek Art: Socrates to Sulla; From the Peloponnesian Wars to the Rise of Julius Caesar. Art of Antiquity 2, pt. 2 (Boston: Dept. of Classical Art, Museum of Fine Art, 1980), pp. 70-71.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook. 5th ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), p. 45.

Frel, Jiří. Greek Portraits in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1981), pp. 82-85, 115, no. 34.

Hafner, German. Prominente der Antike: 337 Portraits in Wort und Bild. Dusseldorf and Vienna: 1981. Pp. 222-224, s.v. Menander, p. 224.

Vermeule, Cornelius C. Greek and Roman Sculpture in America (Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1981), no. 104.

Goette, Hans R. "Zum Bildnis des 'Cicero'," Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archaeologisches Instituts, Roemische Abteilung 92 (1985), pp. 291-318, p. 315, cat. no. II, 39.

Schmalz, B. Das Bildnis des Epikur un die Uberlieferung griechischen Portrats, Marburger Winckelmann-Programm, 1985, p. 47, n. 82, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 1st ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), p. 44.

Freyer-Schauenburg, B. "Zum Bildnis des Demokrit," Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archaeologischen Instituts, Roemische Abteilung, vol. 96 (1989). pp. 312-331, p. 329, n. 77.

Ridgway, Brunilde S. Hellenistic Sculpture I: The Style of Circa 331-200 B.C. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990), p. 226.

Stewart, Andrew. Greek Sculpture: An Exploration (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990), p. 198, fig. 610, ill.

Fittschen, Klaus. "Zur Rekonstruktion griechischer Dichterstatuen. 1. Teil: Die Statue des Menander," Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archaeologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung, vol. 106 (1991), pp. 243-279, pp. 252, 255, ill. pl. 52, 3, cat. no. 68.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1991), p. 35.

Weber, Martha. "Das frueheste Homerportraet als Kunstkopie und als roemisches Geraet," Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archaeologischen Instituts, Roemische Abteilung 98 (1991), pp. 199-221, pp. 214, Cat. II 3; p. 218.

Matheson, Susan. "The Goddess Tyche," An Obsession with Fortune: Tyche in Greek and Roman Art. Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin. New Haven: 1994, p. 21; fig. 5; p. 107, cat. no. 1.

Bodel, John, and Stephen Tracy. Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA: A Checklist (New York: American Academy in Rome, 1997), p. 11.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 5, fig. 5.

Towne Markus, Elana. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Antiquities. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 107.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 35.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: 2002), p. 177.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 178.

Lang, Jörn. Mit Wissen geschmückt? Zur bildlichen Rezeption griechischer Dichter und Denker in der römischen Lebenswelt, Monumenta Artis Romanae 39 (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2012), p. 183, no. S Men4, fig. 238.

Nervegna, Sebastiana. Menander in Antiquity. The Contexts of Reception (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), p.124, fig. 5.

Mattusch, Carol C. Enduring Bronze: Ancient Art, Modern Views (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2014), p. 42, fig. 20.