Medallion Portrait Of Menander
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1991.63
Title
Medallion Portrait of Menander
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture
Date
4th century CE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Period
Roman Imperial period
Culture
Roman
Location
Level 3, Room 3400, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Marble relief
Technique
Carved
Dimensions
55 cm h x 48 cm w x 23 cm d (21 5/8 x 18 7/8 x 9 1/16 in.)
Provenance
Hon. James Smith Barry, Marbury Hall, Cheshire, England, (acquired 1776), by descent; to the Marbury Hall Collection, (until 1987), sold; [through Christie's, London, July 10, 1987]; [through Royal-Athena Galleries, New York, 1987-1991], sold and partial gift from Jerome Eisenberg; to the Harvard University Art Museums, 1991.
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift in part of Dr. and Mrs. Jerome Eisenberg and Purchase in part from the Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund
Accession Year
1991
Object Number
1991.63
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Commentary
Re-View Exhibition, Spring 2008, gallery label information:

Medallion Portrait of Menander
Roman, early 3rd century CE
Marble
Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift in part of Dr. and Mrs. Jerome Eisenberg and Purchase in part from the Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund, 1991.63

This inscribed portrait-formerly in Marbury Hall, Cheshire, England-has helped identify the extant portraits of the Greek playwright Menander (342/1-291/0 BCE), the best-known representative of the New Comedy. More than seventy Roman copies of Menander's image attest to his continued popularity. They are likely based on a statue in the theater at Athens, which showed him seated and was created around the time of his death by Kephisodotos and Timarchos, sons of the famous sculptor Praxiteles. While Greek portraits generally comprised the whole body (compare the Statuette of Demosthenes, 2007.221, in the case to the left), portraits of the Roman period took various forms, including the medallion or shield image (imago clipeata). Menander's portrait represents him middle-aged and clean-shaven, as an urbane, vigorous, and thoughtful man in traditional Greek garb. A scroll characterizes him as a writer.
Publication History

James Cuno, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), p. 118-119, ill.

[Reproduction Only], Persephone, (Fall 2004)., p. 83.

A Decade of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions by the Harvard University Art Museums, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, Spring 2000), pp. 28-29

Exhibition History

Roman Gallery Installation (long-term), Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/16/1999 - 01/20/2008

Re-View: S422 Ancient & Byzantine Art & Numismatics, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/2008 - 06/18/2011

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted