Mercury (Hermes)

Imperial Period
A.D. 30–40

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 145; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 111 (additional published references).


Overall: 72cm (28 3/8in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble (probably from the Greek island of Paros)

On View

Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)


The Ancient World



An under life size nude; the wings in his hair, now broken off, indicate he is Mercury (Hermes), the messenger of the gods and conductor of souls to the Underworld. This work is a fleshier, Roman interpretation of the style of the Greek sculptor Polykleitos.

It has been recently suggested that the Hermes/Mercury stood in the facade of the amphitheater of Capua, placed there during a renovation probably dating to the reign of Antoninus Pius.

A hard, calcareous deposit partly covers the front of the body; this has been removed from the face, neck, and parts of the chest by means of acid, corroding and discoloring portions of the surface.

Scientific Analysis:
Harvard Lab No. HI357: Isotope ratios - delta13C +4.92 / delta18O -3.37, Attribution - Paros 1.


By date unknown: with Edward Perry Warren (according to L. D. Caskey, Catalogue of Greek and Roman Sculpture: from the neighborhood of Capua); 1895: purchased by MFA from Edward Perry Warren for $ 29,857.37 (this figure is the total price for MFA 95.9-95.174)

Credit Line

Catharine Page Perkins Fund