Bust - manly portrait
II - I sec. a.C.
Flowered alabaster, Parian marble, Portasanta onyx
The sculpture consists of a portrait head of an illustrious Greek or Roman of the late Hellenistic period, mounted on a bust of the Renaissance period. In Hellenistic antiquity, the portraits of eminent private citizens were inspired by models of illustrious statuary: some characteristic signs then made it possible to identify the subject represented. In this case the type of hairstyle and the square shape of the face refer to late classical models, in particular to the type of Hermes tying the sandal, created by the Greek sculptor Lysippos in the second half of the 4th century BC, but other features appear typical of the face of Menander, the famous Greek playwright, who in late Hellenism was taken as a model for private portraiture. The signs of age, visible above all in the area around the eyes, and a certain characterization of the face, however, refer to a real portrait and not to an image of a divinity or an idealized famous person. The Renaissance bust in ancient polychrome marble appears exquisitely made and was probably made by Roman or Florentine workshops of the highest level. It was performed with the 'salesman' technique: the decorative motif is in fact created through the composition of thin marble slabs of different colors, sizes and shapes, fixed on a Parian marble base. The perfect continuity of the neck muscles between the ancient head and the Renaissance chest confirms that the military-style bust, with cloak and cuirass, was made specifically for this head: at the time of this integration, the portrayed character was therefore interpreted as an illustrious Roman general, perhaps Pompey the Great, seeing that between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the very face of Menander was mistakenly identified with that of the leader.