Head of Zeus

Greek
Late Classical Period
350–340 B.C.


Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 044; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 108 (additional published references); Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 030-031.

Dimensions

Overall: 48 x 26cm (18 7/8 x 10 1/4in.)

Accession Number

04.12

Medium or Technique

Marble from Mt. Pentelikon near Athens

On View

Greek Archaic Gallery (Gallery 113)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

This over-lifesize marble head, originally part of a seated or standing statue, likely represents a reinterpretation of the Olympian Zeus by a sculptor of a later generation. The symmetry of the hair, beard, and facial features impart a sense of tranquil gravity suited to this all-powerful divinity. Cuttings on the crown of the head suggest that a headdress, or polos, once sat on top.

Condition: The base of the neck is worked for insertion in a statue. The greater part of the nose has been restored in plaster, after the Zeus on the Hadrianic coin of Elis. Some chips from the base of the neck in front and from the locks of hair falling behind the ears are also missing. Incrustation has been removed from the right side of the face. There are two holes for dowels in the crown. The head was made separately for insertion in a statue, which was draped. The face was turned somewhat to its own right. At the left side of the neck is a small fragment of the himation which was draped over the god’s shoulder. A depression running around the skull suggests that the marble head was encircled by a wreath made separately of bronze.

Scientific Analysis:
Harvard Lab No. HI255: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.63 / delta18O -5.81, Attribution - Pentelikon, Justification - Fine grained marble.

Provenance

By date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren (according to B. H. Hill, MFA Annual Report for 1904, p. 55, no. 5: from Mylasa in Caria);
January 19, 1904: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 74,100.00 (this figure is the total price for MFA 04.6-04.37)

Credit Line

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund