Statuette of Alexander the Great

Object Details

Title:

Statuette of Alexander the Great

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

East Greek

Date:

2nd century B.C.

Medium:

Marble

Dimensions:

31.5 × 10.7 × 7 cm (12 3/8 × 4 3/16 × 2 3/4 in.)

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Ancient authors record that Alexander the Great was so pleased with portraits of himself created by Lysippos that he decreed no other sculptor would make his image. Although this statement is probably exaggerated, Lysippos did make some of the most powerful and lasting images of Alexander. It also shows Alexander understood the propagandistic importance of his image and the need to control it.

Lysippos's statue "Alexander with a Lance," made in the 320s B.C., portrayed Alexander armed and naked, echoing the great heroes of Greek mythology like Achilles with whom he identified. He stood with his weight on one leg, one arm extended and holding a spear, the other hanging down at his side. This broken statuette, carved in the 100s B.C., is a small-scale variant of that original. One of numerous surviving posthumous images of Alexander made well into the Roman period, this statuette may have been a private devotional image related to the worship of Alexander as a god. Its owners certainly valued it, since the statuette was repaired and reworked in antiquity.

Provenance
- 1973

Robin Symes, Limited (London, England), by partial credit and partial purchase, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1973.

Exhibitions
The Making of a Hero: Alexander the Great from Antiquity to the Renaissance (October 22, 1996 to January 5, 1997)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), October 22, 1996 to January 5, 1997
Hellenistic Art from the Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 25 to August 15, 2001)
  • Robert V. Fullerton Art Museum, California State University, San Bernardino, January 25 to August 15, 2001
Remembering Antiquity: The Ancient World Through Medieval Eyes (January 24 to May 28, 2017)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 24 to May 28, 2017
Bibliography

Robin Symes advertisement. Apollo 97 (June 1973), n.p., ill.

"Notable Works of Art Now on the Market: Supplement." The Burlington Magazine 115, no. 843 (June 1973), n.p., pl. IX, ill.

Frel, Jirí, and Elizabeth Buckley. Greek and Roman Portraits in the J. Paul Getty Museum. exh. cat. California State University at Northridge, October 16-November 11, 1973 (1973), p. 12, no. 1, ill.

Frel, Jiří. The Getty Bronze (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978), p. 22; pl. 7.

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), p. 33.

Frel, Jiří. Antiquities in the J. Paul Getty Museum: A Checklist; Sculpture I: Greek Originals (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1979), p. 26, no. 102.

Frel, Jiří. Antiquities in the J. Paul Getty Museum: A Checklist; Sculpture II: Greek Portraits and Varia (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, November 1979), addendum, p. 44, no. 102.

Frel, Jiří. Greek Portraits in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1981), pp. 70, 113, no. 21, ill.

Moreno, P. "Opere de Lisippo." Rivista dell'Istituto nazionale d'archeologia e storia dell'arte, 3rd ser. Vols. 6-7 (1983-84), p. 43.

Frel, Jiří. "Caesar." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, 5 (1977). pp. 55-62, p. 85, no. 30.

Frel, Jirí. "Alexander with the Lance." Lysippe et son influence. Hellas et Roma V (1987). pp. 77-79.

Stewart, Andrew. Faces of Power: Alexander's Image and Hellenistic Politics (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), appendix 5, "The Getty Fragments: A Catalogue," pp. 438-52, p. 425, no. 6.

Grossman, Janet Burnett. "Images of Alexander the Great in the Getty Museum," Studia Varia from the J. Paul Getty Museum 2, Occasional Papers on Antiquities 10 (2001), pp. 54-55, no. 2; figs. 2a-c.

Thomas, Renate. Eine postume Statuette Ptolemaios' IV. und ihr historischer Kontext: Zur Götterangleichung hellenistischer Herrscher. Trierer Winckelmannsprogramme, 18 (Mainz am Rhein: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 2001), p. 68, n. 103 m.