Candelabrum base decorated with figures of Nike

Roman
Early Imperial Period, Augustan
about 31 B.C.–A.D. 14


Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 300; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 113 (additional published references).

Dimensions

Height: 39 cm (15 3/8 in.)

Accession Number

59.687

Medium or Technique

Marble from Mt. Pentelikon near Athens

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

The sculptured compositions of each side of this triangular base are identical. A figure of Nike or Victoria, winged, wearing a long chiton with short overfold, flies down from the left to the right and pours a libation from a ewer or oinochoe onto a flat plate. This design is set in a series of simple moldings, partly preserved on the bottom and two of the vertical edges.
Bases such as this were popular in the Roman world, especially in Italy, in the Julio-Claudian through Hadrianic periods of the empire. They supported decorative candelabra or, equally often, merely shafts carved to imitate a vine stem or tree trunk and terminating in a finial such as a pine cone. Such objects were set around the gardens or courtyards of Roman villas in much the same fashion as iron deer or Chinese stone lanterns graced the grounds of estates in America at the turn of this century. Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli in the second century A.D. possessed many lavish examples of such decorative art. The reliefs of this base are Neo-Attic in style. The Nikai even catch something of the composition and spirit of a figure from the balustrade of the temple to Nike on the Acropolis of Athens.
The outer edges are mostly broken away or damaged. The surfaces are corroded and worn, but have a yellow-gray patina.

Scientific Analysis:
Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.520 / delta18O -4.867, Attribution - Pentelikon.

Provenance

By 1914: with Galerie Helbig, Sammlung von antiken Glasern, Terrakotten, Marmor Skulpturen und Bronzen aus dem Besitze von Fr. D. Kirchner-Schwarz, Beirut (June 22-23, 1914); by 1936: loaned to MFA by Miss Mary C. Wheelwright; bequest of Miss Mary C. Wheelwright to MFA, October 8, 1959

Credit Line

Bequest of Miss Mary C. Wheelwright