Mercury (Hermes)

Roman
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).

Dimensions

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

Accession Number

95.67

Medium or Technique

Marble (probably from the Greek island of Paros)

On View

Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)

Collections

The Ancient World

Classifications

Sculpture

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.

Provenance

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