Art

Statue of Meleager, Roman copy of a 4th-century BC Greek original

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After Skopas
Greek (active mid 4th century BCE)
Statue of Meleager, Roman copy of a 4th-century BC Greek original, 100-200 CE
Sculpture
, Statue
Roman
,
2nd century CE
Roman Imperial period
Creation Place: Etruria
Parian marble
H. 123 x W. 63 x D. 42 cm (48 7/16 x 24 13/16 x 16 9/16 in.)
weight: 235.4169 kg (519 lbs.)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Mrs. K. G. T. Webster
, 1926.48
Department of Ancient and Byzantine Art & Numismatics
,
Description
A good number of copies of the lost original (which was probably in bronze) show a Greek hero, with a head like those of Skopas and a body influenced by the work of Lysippos, either leaning on a staff or with a spear against the left shoulder. The presence of a boar's head by the left foot and, seemingly, a hound at the subject's right side, plus the relationship to Skopas's sculptures for the temple of Tegea, have given rise to the identification of the subject as Meleager, hunter of the Calydonian boar, and the sculptor as Skopas.

While the original and its numerous, variant copies all show an ideal hero and have nothing to do with Greek portraiture, a head from a statue, now at Houghton Hall in Norfolk, was carved as a likeness of a Hellenistic ruler, surely a Seleucid. The marble was a copy of the Antonine period after an original based on Skopas's statue (Oehler, 1980, p. 73, no. 66, pl. 22).

Along with the head and torso of the statue as rejoined (most recently in 1961-1962) came eighteen fragments that may belong to the base (Hanfmann, Pedley, 1964, p. 62). Three fragments joined to form the hero's lower leg. Another fragment is part of the thigh. Two fragments seem to have been parts of Meleager's dog and boar's head and three fragments joined to form what might have been part of the stick(?) on which Meleager leaned and part of a chlamys falling down the left arm.

The chief difference in the Harvard copy and its mate from Santa Marinella in Berlin, one of the touchstones for the group of copies, is that the javelin held in the left hand has been replaced by a staff lodged under the left arm. The feeling is that both the boar's head and the dog were part of the original composition in bronze, the latter beside the hero's right leg and the former by his left foot.

While the more slender and youthful "boy victor" (Narcissus) after Polykleitos could be identified as Adonis when a boar's head was added to the support on which the lad leaned, there is no question here that the more mature, more formidable figure of Meleager was intended, not the least reason being that a Meleager based on this Skopasian statue appears frequently as the protagonist on sarcophagi.

Catalogue entry from: Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman, and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums; Cornelius C. Vermeule and Amy Brauer, HUAM, Cambridge, 1990.
Commentary
Re-View Exhibition, Spring 2008, gallery label information:

Statue of Meleager, Roman copy of a 4th-century BCE Greek original, late 1st-early 2nd century CE; Parian marble; Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Mrs. K. G. T. Webster, 1926.48

This fragmentary sculpture is one of the many Roman copies or variants in marble of an earlier Greek bronze statue. It likely represents Meleager, the legendary hunter of the Calydonian boar and suitor of the Arcadian heroine Atalanta. Other copies preserve a boar's head by the feet. Greek sculptors excelled in shaping the nude bodies of gods, heroes, and athletes. The forceful body and emotional features of Meleager recall the sculptures from the temple of Athena Alea at Tegea in Arcadia, which included a representation of the boar hunt. Accordingly, the original Greek statue has been attributed to Skopas of Paros, a well-known sculptor of the fourth century BCE and the architect of the temple.
Provenance
Urbano Sacchetti, Santa Marinella, Italy, (1895-1899), sold; to Edith Forbes, (by 1899). K. G. T. Webster, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1926.
Bibliography
Luigi Borsari, "Santa Marinella", Notizie degli Scavi di Antichità, R. Accademia dei Lincei (Rome, Italy, 1895), pp. 195-201, figs. 1,2

Salomon Reinach, Répertoire de la statuaire grecque et romaine, Editions Ernst Leroux (Paris, 1908 - 1930), Vol. 4, p. 555, no. 6.

George H. Chase and Chandler R. Post, History of Sculpture, Harper and Brothers Publishers (New York, NY and London, England, 1925), pp. 119f., fig. 63

Ernst Buschor, "Varianten", Antike Plastik: Walther Amelung zum sechzigsten Geburtstag, Walter de Gruyter and Co. (Berlin and Leipzig, 1928), p. 55, pl. IV

Carl Blummel, Romische Kopien griechischer Skulpturen des funften Jahrhunderts v. Chr., H. Schoetz and Co. (Berlin, Germany, 1938), p. 22 (on the findspot of the Harvard and Berlin Meleagers at Santa Marinella)

George M. A. Hanfmann, Greek Art and Life, An Exhibition Catalogue, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1950), no. 185.

Georg Lippold, Handbuch der Archaologie VI, 3, Die Griechische Plastik, C. H. Beck (Munich, Germany, 1950), p. 289, note 6

George M. A. Hanfmann, An Exhibition of Ancient Sculpture, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1950), no. 185

Gisela M.A. Richter, The Sculpture and Sculptors of the Greeks, Yale University Press (U.S.) (New Haven, CT, 1950), p. 213, 276

Paolo Enrico Arias, Skopas, L'Erma di Bretschneider (Rome, Italy, 1952), p. 128, no. 3, pls. 11, 39

Margarete Bieber, The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age, Columbia University Press (New York, NY, 1961), pp. 24-25, figs. 54, 56-67

Dr. Benjamin Rowland, Jr., The Classical Tradition in Western Art, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1963), pp. 33-34, fig. 24

George M. A. Hanfmann and John Griffiths Pedley, "The Statue of Meleager", Antike Plastik (1964), III, pp. 61-66, pls. 58-72

Andreas Linfert, Von Polyklet zu Lysipp : Polyklets Schule und ihr Verhältnis zu Skopas von Paros, (Giessen, 1966)

George M. A. Hanfmann, Classical Sculpture, Michael Joseph, Ltd. (London, 1967), p. 320, fig. 158

Dorothea Arnold, Die Polykletnachfolge; Untersuchungen zur Kunst von Argos und Sikyon zwischen Polyklet und Lysipp, (1969)

Herbert D. Hoffmann, Collecting Greek Antiquities, C. N. Potter (New York, NY, 1971), p. 28, fig. 27.

Edward Waldo Forbes, Yankee Visionary, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1971), p. 4

Dericksen Morgan Brinkerhoff, "Figures of Venus, Creative and Derivative", Studies Presented to George M. A. Hanfmann, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1971), p. 15

Jean Charbonneaux, Classical Greek Art, Braziller (New York, NY, 1972), fig. 403

Erol Atalay and Sabahattin Turkoglu, "Ein fruhhellenistischer Portratkopf des Lysimachos aus Ephesos", Jahresheften des osterreichischen Archaologischen Instituts (50) (1976), cols. 133, 134, note 12, figs. 7, 8, cols. 135-138, figs. 1, 2

Andrew Stewart, Skopas of Paros, Noyes Press (Park Ridge, NJ, 1977), pp. 104-107, 110, 122, 144

Margarete Bieber, Ancient Copies: Contributions to the History of Greek and Roman Art, New York University Press (New York, NY, 1977), p. 41, fig. 86

Cornelius C. Vermeule, III, Greek Sculpture and Roman Taste, University of Michigan Press (Ann Arbor, MI, 1977), pp. 15-16, 33

George M. A. Hanfmann and David Gordon Mitten, "The Art of Classical Antiquity", Apollo (May 1978), Vol. 107, No. 195, 8-15, pp. 362-363, fig. 1, pl. 44a

Cornelius C. Vermeule, III, Greek and Roman Sculpture in America, University of California Press (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA, 1981), p. 81, no. 51

S. Lane Faison, Jr., The Art Museums of New England, D. R. Godine (Boston, MA, 1982), p. 112, fig. 1, pl. 191, fig. 111

Andrew Stewart, Skopas in Malibu, J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu, CA, 1982), pp. 14-15, fig. 19

Kristin A. Mortimer, Harvard University Art Museums: A Guide to the Collections, Harvard University Art Museums/Abbeville Press (Cambridge, MA; New York, NY, 1985), p. 107, no. 119, ill.

Cornelius C. Vermeule, III and Amy Brauer, Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 45, no. 30

James Cuno, Harvard's Art Museums: 100 Years of Collecting, Harvard University Art Museums/Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (Cambridge, MA, 1996), p. 110-111, ill.

John Griffiths Pedley, Griechische kunst und archaologie, Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft (Cologne, 1999), p. 300/fig. 9.32

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/Handbook, exh. cat., ed. Stephan Wolohojian (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2008)

Exhibition History
Greek Art and Life: From the Collections of the Fogg Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Private Lenders, Fogg Art Museum, 03/07/1950 - 04/15/1950
Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 09/22/2007 - 01/20/2008
Re-View: S422 Ancient & Byzantine Art & Numismatics, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/12/2008 - 06/18/2011