Herm-bust of Menander
Late 1st century B.C. or early 1st century A.D.
Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 121; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 109-110 (additional published references); Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 125.
Height: 51.5cm ( 20 1/4 in.); length (of face): 19.6 cm (7 11/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Marble (from Mt. Pentelikon near Athens)
Greek Classical Gallery (Gallery 215C)
The very tip of the nose is missing. The surface on the right side of the face and neck is corroded and worn. The bust takes the form of a herm, with slots for wooden inserts, on which garlands could be hung. The neck is inclined toward the left shoulder, and the head is turned slightly to the subject’s right. The man portrayed is in the prime of life.
Menander was the leading writer of “New Comedy” whose dramas concerned lively, though highly unusual, domestic crises. His plots, known from Latin adaptations by Plautus and Terence, involve scheming slaves and kidnapped daughters. The model for this portrait, probably set up in the Theater of Dionysus at Athens, couples visionary intelligence and a lean, athletic grandeur in a way that is paralleled in portraits of Alexander the Great by Lysippus.
Harvard Lab No. HI226: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.48 / delta18O -4.64, Attribution - Pentelikon, Justification - Fine grained marble, Petrographic Analysis - maximum grain size (1.1, 1.2 mm), accessory minerals (dolomite, quartz), Mg present.
By date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: Can be traced as far as Torre Annunziata. Probably found in the neighbourhood.); 1897: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 25,000.00 (this figure is the total price for MFA 97.285-97.442 and 97.1104)
Catharine Page Perkins Fund