Galerie Nefer (Zurich, Switzerland), sold to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, 1992.
Currently on view at: Getty Villa, Gallery 216, Roman Treasury
Statuette of a Standing Comic Actor
12.2 cm (4 13/16 in.)
Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman
Standing with his weight on one leg, this actor leers out from behind his comic mask. His hip-shot posture accentuates his big belly and buttocks. The mask is that of a leading slave, characterized by hair brushed back in a sort of pompadour, a snub nose, a thick moustache, and a scoop-shaped beard. The actor's right hand is raised to his chin in the standard plotting gesture of the ancient theater. This portrayal of an actor is unusual because it falls outside the normal categories of such representations. On the one hand, the actor's mask and his general presentation seem to be drawn from New Comedy. Beginning around 320 B.C., New Comedy centered on the trials and tribulations of average people, rather than parodying public figures and events like earlier comedy. As such, the costumes of New Comedy became more like normal clothing and the masks less distorted. On the other hand, this actor's long, dangling artificial phallus does not belong in New Comedy, but links him with the ribald phlyax plays popular in the Greek colonies of South Italy.
True, Marion, and Kenneth Hamma, eds. A Passion For Antiquities. Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, exh. cat. (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994), pp. 218-19, cat. no. 108.
"Museum Acquisitions Between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 1998." The Report of the J. Paul Getty Trust (1997-98), p. 65.
Kunze, Max. Meisterwerke antiker Bronzen und Metallarbeiten aus der Sammlung Borowski. (Ruhpolding: Rutzen, 2007) , p. 167.