Youthful Hero Or God
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1926.48
People
After Skopas, Greek ( active mid 4th century BCE)
Title
Youthful Hero or God
Other Titles
Former Title: Statue of Meleager, Roman copy of a 4th-century BC Greek original
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture, statue
Date
1st-2nd century CE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe
Find Spot: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Latium
Period
Roman Imperial period
Culture
Roman
Location
Level 3, Room 3200, Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Art
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Parian marble
Technique
Carved
Dimensions
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.)
Provenance
Urbano Sacchetti, Santa Marinella, Italy, (1895-1899), sold; to Edith Forbes, (by 1899). K. G. T. Webster, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1926.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Mrs. K. G. T. Webster
Accession Year
1926
Object Number
1926.48
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Commentary
This youthful hero or god is possibly modeled on a Greek statue of the 4th century BCE.

Published Catalogue Text: Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums , written 1990
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.

Cornelius Vermeule and Amy Brauer

Publication History

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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 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. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2008)

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

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

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Driving Concepts

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Artstor Digital Library

Verification Level

4 - Best. Object is extensively researched, well described and information is vetted