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Neoclassical Caornelian Intaglio of A Diminutive Imperial Roman Marble Torso of Herakles or Orpheus

Nude, posed in chiastic balance, his weight resting on his right leg. Frontal muscular anatomy of a mature individual, his toga held in the crook of his bent left arm. 


Lysippus, court sculptor to Alexander the Great during the third quarter of the Fourth Century BC, is considered to be one of the greatest artists of Classical antiquity. Taught by Aristotle himself, Alexander felt the constant need to be surrounded by material beauty. Perpetually away on military campaigns, he commissioned Lysippus with the task of making artworks that could be moved with the camp, yet still impress upon the viewer all the gravity, pathos and psychological power of life size and even monumental sculptures. Lysippus rose to the challenge by creating his so-called Herakles Epitrapezius (lit., “Table-Top Herakles”). This statue was so acclaimed it gave rise to a genre of such works, whereby a sculptor would attempt to demonstrate his technical prowess by producing his own work  of diminutive proportion that yet imbued within the viewer a sense of monumentality and profundity one would normally only associate with an artwork of considerably larger proportions.


2nd Century AD, Italy, Greece, or Turkey.

Head, right arm above the elbow, and legs below the knees are lost; no repair or restoration.

11.5 x 7.8 cm (4 ½ x 3 1/8 inches)

Private Swiss collection, Bern, collected between 1968 – 1983.

Art Loss Register ref. S00155181





BRAFA Art Fair. (Brussels, 26 Jan- 2 Feb 2020) 





Giuliano, Antonio  (ed.); Museo Nazionale Romano. Le Sculture. I, 2  (Rome, 1981) no.42, 51