Head of Alexander the Great or Helios, the sun god

Roman
2nd century A.D. or 19th century


Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 127; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 110 (additional published references).

Dimensions

Height x length (of face): 48 x 24 cm (18 7/8 x 9 7/16 in.)

Accession Number

95.68

Medium or Technique

Marble from Carrara in northwest Italy

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

The head has been cleaned. The lower front half of the nose is broken away, and there are slight abrasions on the left cheek, on the chin, at the right brow, and in the hair. There appears to have been recutting of the hair and locks at the back, expecially the lower part, of the head; this may have been for an adjustment in antiquity.

Turned violently upward and to its own left, this head of Alexander the Great as Helios, god of the sun, was carved to be let into a statue of nearly colossal proportions. The divine ruler was probably represented in the heroic nude with a cloak or aegis about the shoulders, concealing the join of the neck and shoulders. A ruler’s rolled fillet encircles the head behind the leonine locks which enframe the face.

(E.P. Warren: modern; Ariel Herrmann: by Albicini (?); J. B. Ward-Perkins: Carrara marble)

Scientific Analysis:
Harvard Lab No. HI216: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.02 / delta18O -1.65, Attribution - Carrara, Doliana 2, Justification - Fine-grained marble.

Provenance

First published in 1893; photographed by Fototipia Danesi in Rome, probably by 1894; said to have been bought in Alexandria and to come from Menschîye (province of Girghe) which was ancient Ptolemais; by 1894: with Edward Perry Warren (according to his letter of November 11, 1895: found in Mancheeh, province of Girgeh in Egypt); 1895: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 29,857.37 (this figure is the total price for MFA 95.9-95.174)

Credit Line

Catharine Page Perkins Fund