Colossal seated statue of Cybele or a Muse?

Roman
Early Imperial Period
1st BC or 1st AD


Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 092; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 109 (additional published references); Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 041.

Dimensions

Overall: 188 x 104 x 124cm (74 x 40 15/16 x 48 13/16in.) Block (wooden timber base (8 5/8 x 7 3/4 )): 51.4 x 135.9 x 145.7 cm (20 1/4 x 53 1/2 x 57 3/8 in.) Block (Object sits on a concrete on top of wooden base): 126.4 x 86.4 x 62.9 cm (49 3/4 x 34 x 24 3/4 in.)

Accession Number

99.340

Medium or Technique

Marble, from Carrara in northwest Italy

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

Cybele, the great mother of the gods, also known as Magna Mater, is represented in her customary seated pose in this colossal statue. Probably once enthroned in an elevated position within an Imperial-period temple, the work is said to have been found at Amiternum, in the mountains of central Italy. She was a chaste goddess, a protector of cities, and a bringer of good fortune. It has also been suggested that she might represent a seated Muse.

Assembled from several marble blocks, this statue was executed at the highest level of quality. The goddess-perched on a stool, armless throne, or altar that is partly preserved; perhaps, on her left side she once held a tambourine, the instrument connected with the frenzied music of her worship. A rich cascade of drapery flows across Cybele’s body, the emphatic folds of the fabric creating visual interest, while the semitransparent quality subtly reveals her anatomy-especially her belly, breasts, and knees.

Scientific Analysis:
Harvard Lab No. HI232: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.11 / delta18O -1.83
Harvard Lab No. HI776: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.44 / delta18O -2.36
Attribution - Carrara, Justification - Fine grained marble.

Provenance

By 1898: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: E.P.W. discovered that it was found at Amiternum (near Aquila) in a field. to the right of the road, the last field before you reach the amphitheatre from Aquila. .....[It was then sold by the owner to a man who took it to Castellamare Adriatico where it was purchased for Warren]. 1898.); 1899: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 32,500.00 (this is the total price for MFA 99.338-99.542)

Credit Line

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund