Herm of Dionysos

Object Details

Title:

Herm of Dionysos

Artist/Maker(s):

Attributed to the Workshop of Boëthos of Kalchedon (Greek, active about 200 - 100 B.C.)

Culture:

Greek

Place(s):

Asia Minor (Place created)

Date:

about 200 - 100 B.C.

Medium:

Bronze, calcitic stone

Dimensions:

103.5 x 23.5 x 19.5 cm (40 3/4 x 9 1/4 x 7 11/16 in.)

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Beginning in the 500s B.C., Greeks placed herms, pillars surmounted by a head of the god Hermes, at physical boundaries, such as crossroads or even doorways. Such places were sites of ritual and worship, where the herms served a magical, protective function. By the Hellenistic period, the repertoire of heads found on herms had expanded to include other gods and even famous mortals, and people began to use the herms for non-religious, decorative purposes.

This herm carries a head of Dionysos wearing a turbanlike headdress of loosely wound ribbons. Both the hair and the beard of Dionysos have been carved in a style that would have looked old-fashioned to the contemporary viewer. Greek bronze statues typically had eyes made of contrasting materials. In most instances the eyes have been lost, but this herm still retains the ivory inlay of the white of its left eye, giving a better idea of the work's original appearance.

Provenance
- 1979

Cabinet d'Amateurs (Geneva, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1979.

Exhibitions
The Fire of Hephaistos: Large Classical Bronzes from North American Collections (April 19, 1996 to January 5, 1997)
  • Arthur M. Sackler Museum, (Cambridge), April 19 to August 10, 1996
  • Toledo Museum of Art, (Toledo), October 13, 1996 to January 5, 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
Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004
Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World (March 13, 2015 to March 20, 2016)
  • Palazzo Strozzi, (Florence), March 14 to June 21, 2015
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), July 28 to November 1, 2015
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), December 13, 2015 to March 20, 2016
Bibliography

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Tuttle, Patricia. "Conservation Report on the Bronze Herm," The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 8 (1980), p. 98. figs. 1-2.

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

Stephens, William H., The New Testament World in Pictures, 1987 p. 248, ill. fig. 495.

Scott, David A., and Jerry Podany. "Ancient Copper Alloys: Some Metallurgical and Technological Studies of Greek and Roman Bronzes," Small Bronze Sculpture from the Ancient World. Malibu: 1990. pp.31-60. pp. 43, Table 2, nos. 1-2; 47, 50-55; figs. 13a-f.

Stewart, Andrew. Greek Sculpture: An Exploration (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), p. 229, 305, ill. figs. 849, 850.

Ridland, John. "The Getty's Herm." The Classical Outlook Fall (1990), p. 22, illus.

Mattusch, Carol C. "The Production of Bronze Statuary in the Greek World," Das Wrack. Der antike Schiffsfund von Mahdia. Cologne: 1994. pp. 789-800. pp. 796-798; figs. 8-9.

Mattusch, Carol C. "Bronze Herm of Dionysos," Das Wrack. Der Antike Schiffshund von Mahdia. Cologne: 1994. pp. 431-450. pp. 441-48; figs. 16-26.

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Mattusch, Carol. Classical Bronzes. The Art and Craft of Greek and Roman Statuary. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1996. pp. 187-90; p. 189, fig. 5.23; pp. 222 and 224, fig. 7.4; color pl. 8.

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Crossan, John Dominic and Jonathan L. Reed. In Search of Paul ( San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2004) pp. 258-59, fig. 87.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 18, ill.

Reed, Jonathan L. The HarperCollins Visual Guide to the New Testament (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), p. 39.

Mattusch, Carol C., et al. Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture around the Bay of Naples, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, with Thames & Hudson, 2008), p. 180, fig. 1.

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Scott, David. Ancient Metals: Microstructure and Metallurgy Volume 1 (Los Angeles: Conservation Science Press, 2011), pp. 150-153, figs. 9.55-9.57.

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