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Bull in high relief
Roman Sculptor
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Roman Sculptor

Bull in high relief

20 a.C. - 60. White marble, 80 x 126 cm.

Represented in high relief at half life-size, this bull trots to the right in front of a thin wall that offers additional support to his legs. His scapulae are realistically rendered, as are his hip joints and tendons, which stand out and structure his heavy body in a varied manner. His head is too small. Originally inclined, it offered a less humanized gaze than it does now. The remains of color on his jowls suggest that the marble was originally colored reddish brown.

Cattle have been the subject of figurative art since ancient times, when they frequently took the form of votive representations or funerary monuments. It was also common to represent the courtship of male and female animals intended to be sacrificed on the altars of the gods. The present sculpture is not free standing. Instead, it is carved in high relief, indicating that it was unquestionably intended for use in an architectural setting. The animal’s underfed appearance alludes to the poverty of country life, a subject often addressed in bucolic Hellenic and Roman art as the Romans associated it with the primitive yet joyful lives of their forefathers, and of shepherds Romulus and Remus. That would imply that this relief does not represent a sacrificial animal. A century ago, W. Amelung described other reliefs of this type at the Palazzo dei Conservatori, which is now the Museo Centrale Montemartini in Rome. These were a cow, an ox and two fragments of shepherds, as well as a complete third figure of a shepherd at the Uffizzi in Florence.

According to the most recent study, the present work and another at the Museo del Prado (number E00111) are replicas. The fact that all of these reliefs were probably created at the same time suggests they belonged to the same monument. The scarcity of available elements makes it difficult to precisely date these animals beyond the first imperial period, but they may orginially have belonged to Nero’s Domus Aurea, which had a garden with a bucolic program that may have extended as far as the Lacus Pastorum, close to where these statues were discovered (Text drawn from Schröder, S. F.: Catálogo de la escultura clásica, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2004, pp. 324-328).

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Related artworks

Vaca en altorrelieve
White marble, 20 a.C. - 60
Inventory number
E00006
Author
Roman Sculptor
Title
Bull in high relief
Date
20 a.C. - 60
Technique
Sculpted
Medium
White marble
Dimension
High/Height: 80 cm.; Width: 126 cm.; Base/bottom: 40 cm.
Provenance
Royal Collection (Collection of Cristina de Suecia; Collection of Livio Odescalchi; Collection of Felipe V, Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso).

Bibliography +

Ponz, Antonio, Viage de España. Vol. I, X, Joachin Ibarra, Madrid, 1781, pp. carta 5.

Hübner, Emil, Die Antiken Bildwerke in Madrid, Druck Und Verlag Von Georg Reimer, Berlín, 1862, pp. 160.

Barrón, Eduardo, Catálogo de la escultura, Imprenta y fototipia J. Lacoste, Madrid, 1908, pp. 29, n.6.

Ricard, Robert, Marbres Antiques du Musee du Prado a Madrid, Feret & Fils, Burdeos, 1923, pp. 114.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de la escultura, Madrid, 1957, pp. 18.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de la escultura, Patronato Nacional de Museos, Madrid, 1981, pp. nº6.

Chapa Brunet, Teresa, Influjos griegos en la escultura zoomorfa ibérica, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones, Madrid, 1986, pp. 87, 144.

Schröder, Stephan F., Catálogo de la escultura clásica: Museo del Prado, II, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2004, pp. 324-328.

Corona y arqueología en el Siglo de las Luces, Patrimonio Nacional, 2010, pp. 85-93.

Elvira Barba, Miguel Angel, Las esculturas de Cristina de Suecia: un tesoro de la Corona de España, Real Academia de Historia, Madrid, 2011, pp. 40,76 / 116.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, Escultura, 1857. Núm. 337.
337. Un toro de marmol de Genova. / altura 2 pies, 8 pulg.

There are no temporary exhibitions related to this work

Update date: 04-10-2017 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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