Male torso (Mercury?)

Imperial Period
1st half of the 1st century A.D.

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 142; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 111 (additional published references); Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 164-165.


Overall: 120 x 58 x 30 cm (47 1/4 x 22 13/16 x 11 13/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble from Mount Pentelikon near Athens

On View

Greek & Roman Sculpture Gallery (Gallery 211)


The Ancient World



The large-scale male torso bears the weight of the body on the left leg; the right hip swings outwards. As a result of this contrapposto stance, the left hip, left buttock and right shoulder are slightly lowered and the spinal column curves in an S-shape to the right.

Condition: Breaks along the bottom of the neck, right upper arm, left arm above the elbow, genitalia, and left knee and right thigh. Remnant of a strut visible on the back of the right thigh. Veins and inclusions in the marble. Surface mottled with pale brown stains and gashes throughout.

Male torso (Mercury?)
Roman, Imperial period
Early or mid-1st century A.D.

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund, 1901 01.8190

This torso was heavily influenced by one of the most famous ancient sculptures, the Doryphoros (“Spear bearer”) of Polykleitos, a leading Greek artist of the fifth century B.C. Polykleitos may have created the Doryphoros to exemplify the ideal proportions of the human body, about which he also wrote a treatise. The Polykleitan body type is characterized by a pronounced swing of the hips counterbalanced by an opposing slope of the shoulders, as well as clear definition of each muscle. Statues emulating Polykleitos’s ideal were extremely popular in the early Roman imperial period. This version may represent Mercury (the Greek Hermes), the messenger god, and would have held a herald’s staff instead of a spear.


By 1901: with Edward Perry Warren (according to Warren's records: Bought in Rome: but stated to be from Venice, & the owner had just come from Venice. His supplies come from that district very often.); purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren, December 1901

Credit Line

Henry Lillie Pierce Fund