Statuette of Helios, the sun god

Roman Provincial
Imperial Period, Antonine
about A.D. 150–190

Place of Manufacture: Asia Minor


18.9 cm (7 7/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


The Ancient World



Helios is conceived in terms of the image of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.); the sun god is young and beardless but powerful, with a lion-like mane of hair. Like Alexander, he was imagined as fast-moving and far-seeing. Beams of light, of which only one remains, originally radiated from his head. Helios traveled through the heavens in a chariot, and he probably once held a whip in his left hand.


By date unknown: possibly from Asia Minor; said to have belonged to a Greek family of Smyrna that migrated to England (other works in the family's collection said to have been found with Helios: bronze statuettes of Hygieia, Isis, and Asklepios - the latter was the cover illustration of Sotheby's, NY, auction catalogue of 29 Nov. 1989); date unknown: probably with Torkom Demirjian, Ariadne Gallery, 970 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021; by 1989, collection of Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman, New York; by 1995: with Sotheby's, 1334 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021 (auction, December 8, 1995, lot 100, cover illustration of the auction catalogue); purchased by MFA from Sotheby's as an unsold lot, December 13, 1995; purchase confirmed by MFA trustees, January 24, 1996

Credit Line

Frank B. Bemis Fund, William E. Nickerson Fund, Otis Norcross Fund and Helen B. Sweeny Fund