Mirror with Erotes and Silenos punishing a nude female

Roman
Imperial Period
1st or 2nd century A.D.


Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), no. 095.

Dimensions

Other: 10.6 x 0.6 cm (4 3/16 x 1/4 in.)

Accession Number

1986.750

Medium or Technique

Gilt bronze

Not On View

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Cosmetic and medical

Mirror and cover with a representation of a punishment scene, possibly of Venus by Cupids and Silenus. A woman with legs and buttocks bared is laid out on a bed and is held down by two winged cupids. A male figure with balding head, beard, and big exposed belly, who resembles Silenus, is about to whip her. On the right side, a winged eros or cupid holds up a titulus (a placard like those used for prisoners condemned to die in the amphitheater) and writes on it with a stylus perhaps keeping track of the number of blows. Mounted above on a wall is a pinax (a framed easel painting) with a representation of a standing winged victory. A waxed tablet and stylus, appear below in the exergue. Whipping might be found in Roman scenes of schoolrooms, or initiations into mystery cults, or in a scene from the festival of the Lupercalia where whipping was used to promote fertility, but the exact explanation of this scene is not known.

Provenance

By date unknown: Roger Peyrefitte Collection, Paris (said to be from Asia Minor); according to an invoice from Royal-Athena Galleries: published by R. Peyrefitte in Un Musee de lAmour in 1972 and in 1978 by H. Cahn in "Le Musée Secret" de Roger Peyrefitte, auction in Paris, December 11-12, 1978, lot 434; by 1985: with Royal-Athena Galleries, 153 East 57th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022 (Art of the Ancient World, vol. 4, 1985, p. 110, no. 324); purchased by MFA from Royal-Athena Galleries, December 17, 1986

Credit Line

William E. Nickerson Fund