Head of Minerva

Late Renaissance

Place of Manufacture: Rome, Lazio, Italy


Height: 0.428 m. Length of face: 0.15 m.

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Europe, The Ancient World



A soft and rounded Athena wears an elaborate, fanciful helmet, which seems to combine the Corinthian and Macedonian types. The helmet has a flamboyant plume and a winged Medusa head above the eye holes. A fleshy forehead bulges out above the eyeholes, and a line surrounds them like a mask for a costume party. The cheek pieces are broken away. The tip of Minerva’s nose is restored in plaster. The weathered appearance suggests that the piece was displayed out of doors - presumably as a restoration of an ancient torso of Minerva and presumably in the Villa Ludovisi. The plaster restoration of the nose may have been done to prepare the piece for sale.


By date unknown: said to be in the Ludovisi Collection; by 1888: with R. Lanciani (said to come from the Ludovisi villa); purchased by MFA from R. Lanciani, December 8, 1888, for $173.91 (this is the total price for MFA 89.4-89.8)

Credit Line

Benjamin Pierce Cheney Donation