Art

Medallion Portrait of Menander

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Medallion Portrait of Menander, 4th century CE
Sculpture
Roman
,
4th century CE
Roman Imperial period
Creation Place: Europe, Ancient & Byzantine World
Marble relief
55 cm h x 48 cm w x 23 cm d (21 5/8 x 18 7/8 x 9 1/16 in.)
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
, 1991.63
Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art & Numismatics
,
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.
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.
Bibliography
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.

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

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

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